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Between 1920 and 1950, British and US internationalists called for aviation and atomic energy to be taken out of the hands of nation-states, and instead used by international organisations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations. An international air force was to enforce collective security and internationalised civil aviation was to bind the world together through trade and communication. The bomber and the atomic bomb, now associated with death and devastation, were to be instruments of world peace. Drawing on his recently published book, Waqar H. Zaidi explores the public and private discourses on the international control of aviation and atomic energy between 1920 and 1950, and by doing so highlights the neglected technological and militaristic strands in twentieth-century liberal internationalism.
Waqar Zaidi's research focuses on the history of the intersections of aviation, atomic energy, and international relations. He was recently a 2020-21 Member at the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and 2021 Verville Fellow at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC. His first book, Technological Internationalism and World Order: Aviation, Atomic Energy, and the Search for International Peace was published in 2021 by Cambridge University Press. He is currently working on a book on international civil aviation and the politics of the early Cold War.