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Navigating nuclear narratives in contemporary television: The BBC’s Vigil

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In this short video abstract, author Emily Faux discusses the key arguments from her new Review of International Studies article - ‘Navigating nuclear narratives in contemporary television: The BBC’s Vigil.'

Want to know more? You can read the full article at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S026021052300075X

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This article explores the BBC television drama Vigil (2021) as a significant site for the construction of public knowledge about nuclear weapons. In doing so, it extends beyond discourse-oriented approaches to explore how nuclear discourses manifest in visual communication, everyday encounters, and popular imagination. In a close reading of Vigil, this article questions concepts of security, peace, and deterrence, revealing how the series (occasionally) challenges conventional discourses while reproducing gendered and racialised representations of nuclear weapons politics. The exploration asks questions of responsibility for nuclear decision-making, the portrayal of anti-nuclear activists, and the depiction of nuclear weapons as agents of both peace and destruction. While the BBC series reproduces existing (and problematic) discourses, it also provides a ‘thinking space’ for critical engagement. Amid the current geopolitical landscape, this article emphasises the urgency of studying contemporary representations of nuclear weapons and the need for scholarship that challenges traditional Cold War perspectives.

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