Shared vulnerability in the Anthropocene: Nuclear weapons, harm, the biosphere
This four-year doctoral study argues that the advent of nuclear weapons use and testing is emblematic of the present geological era, which is now increasingly understood to be defined entirely by the presence of humans on Earth: the Anthropocene. Despite this, little work from the perspective of contemporary cosmopolitanism has directly engaged the question of nuclear weapons, and none has framed its questions with respect to the emergent features of Earth Systems Science – an increasingly-accepted trans-disciplinary paradigm which emphasises humans’ place both ‘in’ and ‘of’ the biosphere. Questions are then raised about how and why the moral opposition to nuclear weapons was so wide-felt and instantaneous, and what enabled what I argue is one of the earliest and most significant institutional expressions of that global ethic: nuclear-weapon-free zones.
Selected publications: N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Review of Andrew Linklater’s The Problem of Harm in World Politics: Theoretical Investigations (Cambridge University Press, 2011)’. For Australian Book Review, No.342, June 2012; N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Tear gas: Or, the state as atmo-terrorist’, Al Jazeera English, 5 May 2012. Sponsors: Australian Commonwealth Government and the University of Queensland. Project period: 2011—2015.
Dialogue on Middle East biological, nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament
This project involves a series of collaborations designed to develop the theory and practice of dialogue in relation to Middle East biological, nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament. The first phase culminated in a track two/three dialogue among dozens of Middle Eastern government and civil society representatives (Athens 2012). The second phase is an edited volume on the ethics of Middle East (de)nuclearisation, with an emphasis on Middle Eastern secular and religious voices. The third phase involves the facilitation of dialogue among ethical traditions (Florence 2014).
Selected publications: Joseph A. Camilleri, Michael Hamel-Green, Marianne Hanson, Michalis S. Michael, and N.A.J. Taylor (with Foreword by C.G. Weeramantry), Athens Dialogue on a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction as well as their means of delivery, European Public Law Organization, January 2013; N.A.J. Taylor, Joseph A. Camilleri and Michael Hamel-Green, ‘Dialogue on Middle East biological, nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament: Constraints and opportunities’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Vol.38 No.1, 2013, 78-98; N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Dialogue, difference and disarmament: what it is and what it can do’. Paper presented at the Middle East without Weapons of Mass Destruction: Civil Society Input Conference, World Peace Council and the Finnish Peace Committee, Helsinki, Finland, 15 December 2012. Sponsors: European Public Law Organization, La Trobe University, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and the University of Queensland. Project period: 2010—ongoing.
Armaments manufacturing and the limits of responsibility
This project tackles the prevailing view that arms makers and their financiers are not capable of being socially responsible, and are therefore not suitable for ethical scrutiny. Of particular interest is what ethical investing may tells us about the emergence of what Andrew Linklater had called ‘cosmopolitan harm conventions’ – or social practices that do not privilege insiders over outsiders. Most recently I have employed the concept of ‘corporate social irresponsibility’ to probe the investment policies, practices and procedures of both pension and sovereign wealth funds. To date, much of my published work on this theme has focused on landmines, cluster munitions and nuclear weapons – however, going forward the task will be to devise ways to conceptually account for emerging moral and legal norms such as those relating to drones and cyber warfare.
Selected publications: N.A.J. Taylor, ‘A rather delicious paradox: Corporate responsibility and the manufacture of armaments’, in Ralph Tench, William Sun and Brian Jones (eds.) Corporate Social Irresponsibility: A Challenging Concept, Emerald, UK: West Hampshire, November 2012, 43-62; N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition) Bill 2010’. Submission to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, 16 March 2011; M. Scott Donald and N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Does “sustainable” investing compromise the fiduciary duties owed by superannuation trustees?’, Australian Business Law Review, Vol.36 Is.1, 2008, 47-61. Project period: 2002—ongoing.
The aesthetics of biospheric harm
This is an exploratory project in visual and aesthetic politics with twin objectives. First, to gain new insights and understandings of the weaponisation of Earth’s zones of life from aesthetic sources such as photographs, music, paintings, film, literature, architecture, and poetry. Second, to experiment with both the use of virtual spaces and aesthetic representations of harm as ways in which to improve learning experiences and engage new audiences. The project consists of a series of components: first, a curated online archive (Biospheric Harm Aesthetics); second, a series of essays and reviews published to a wide audience; and third, a major collaboration with photographer Louis Porter (Remnants of War).
Selected publications: N.A.J. Taylor, ‘What is Biospheric Harm Aesthetics?’, Medium, 2 July 2013; N.A.J. Taylor, ‘The falling man: 9/11’s private moment’, Al Jazeera English, 11 September 2011; N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Review of Roland Bleiker’s Aesthetics and World Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)’. For Global Change, Peace & Security, Vol.22 Is.3, 2010, 391-5. Sponsors: Monash University. Project period: n/a.