Rowman and Littlefield International

Chemical Bodies

The Techno-Politics of Control

Edited by Alex Mankoo and Brian Rappert

2 Reviews

In warfare, civil unrest, and political protest, chemicals have served as means of coercion, suppression, and manipulation. This book examines how chemical agents have been justified, utilised and resisted as means of control.

Ebook ISBN: 9781786605870 Release date: Oct 2018
£24.95 €34.95 $39.50
Hardback ISBN: 9781786605863 Release date: Oct 2018
£85.00 €119.00 $125.00
Paperback ISBN: 9781786616517 Release date: Apr 2020
£27.95 €39.95 $41.95

Series: Geopolitical Bodies, Material Worlds

Pages: 226


In warfare, civil unrest, and political protest, chemicals have served as means of coercion, suppression, and manipulation. This book examines how chemical agents have been justified, utilised and resisted as means of control. Through attending to how, when, and for whom bodies become rendered as sites of intervention, Chemical Bodies demonstrates the inter-relations between geopolitical transformations and the technological, spatial and social components of local events.

The chapters draw out some of the insidious ways in which chemical technologies are damaging, and re-open discussion regarding their justification, role and regulation. In doing so the contributors illustrate how certain instances of force gain prominence (or fade into obscurity), how some individuals speak and others get spoken for, how definitions of what counts as ‘success’ and ‘failure’ are advanced, and how the rights and wrongs of violence are contested.

Acknowledgements / Abbreviations / Transgressive Chemicals, Brian Rappert and Alex Mankoo / From Reviled Poisons to State Arsenals: The Un(necessary) Proliferation of Chemical Weapons, Jeanne Guillemin / Lesser Appreciations: A History of Inter-War Chemical Warfare, James Revill & Marcos Favero / Biological Warfare, Chemical Warfare and the Public Body, Etienne Aucouturier / Opening Spaces through Exhibiting Absences: Representing Secretive Pasts, Brian Rappert, Kathryn Smith, and Chandré Gould / Tear Gas Epistemology: The Himsworth Committee and Weapons as Drugs, Brian Balmer, Alex Spelling, Caitriona McLeish / What Counts as a Chemical Weapon?: The Category of Law Enforcement in the Chemical Weapons Convention, Michael Crowley / Tear Gas and Colonial Bodies in the British Interwar Period, Anna Feigenbaum / Controlling and Caring for Public Bodies: Civil Defence Gas Tests in WWII Britain, Alex Mankoo / ‘Chemical Bodies’ and the Future of Control, Alex Mankoo and Brian Rappert

Alex Mankoo is a Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Sussex. His research interests include the history of chemical and biological weapons, intersections between science and security, and the sociology of security technologies more generally. His PhD research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and focussed on the technological trajectory of teargas in mid-20th century Britain and the types of legitimacy it gained during this period.

Brian Rappert is a Professor of Science, Technology and Public Affairs at the University of Exeter. His long-term interest has been the examination of the strategic management of information; particularly in the relation to armed conflict. His books include Controlling the Weapons of War: Politics, Persuasion, and the Prohibition of Inhumanity; Biotechnology, Security and the Search for Limits; and Education and Ethics in the Life Science. More recently he has been interested in the social, ethical, and political issues associated with researching and writing about secrets, as in his books Experimental Secrets (2009), How to Look Good in a War (2012) and Dis-eases of Secrecy (2017). For more information see

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2 Reviews

Chemical Bodies gathers notable experts, using case studies across time and space, to examine how chemical agents have been framed as weapons (or not), by whom, for whom, and the political/policy stakes involved. The book is a critical read for academics, intelligence officials, and policymakers who wrestle with how to make sense of chemical and biological threats past and present.

Kathleen Vogel, Associate Professor, School of Public Policy, the University of Maryland

At a time of intense political scrutiny of chlorine and acid attacks, this book takes a deeper dive into historical framings of the chemical weapons taboo. The contextually rich body of work carefully teases out how chemical agents have been justified and resisted as instruments of control, coercion and warfare across time and space. Its portrayal of the dynamics and shifting notions of normative values makes the book indispensable reading to anyone who holds dear the ban on chemical weapons.

Filippa Lentzos, Senior Research Fellow, Department of War Studies and Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, King's College London

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