Opening up the secret city of Stepnogorsk: biological weapons in the former Soviet Union

McLeish, Caitriona (2010) Opening up the secret city of Stepnogorsk: biological weapons in the former Soviet Union. Area, 42 (1). pp. 60-69. ISSN 00040894

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For almost 30 years, the Soviet government hid a large part of its biological weapons programme behind the façade of a network of civilian bio-technology facilities, called the All-Union Production Association Biopreparat, which were established to overcome deficiencies in molecular biology and genetics research. This paper, which is developed from a presentation given during an ESRC-sponsored seminar series, `Locating Technoscience: The Geographies of Science, Technology and Politics¿, details the secret geography of one of those Biopreparat facilities located in Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan. In doing this the paper illustrates how secret geographies can operate simultaneously, and at multiple scales. In the case of the Soviet bio-weapons programme, enacting secrecy at these multiple scales was made possible by the purposeful exploitation of `dual use¿ technologies. By recounting a trip made to the Kazak facility, and using personal communications with UK and US experts involved with uncovering the Soviet bio-warfare programme, the author addresses some of the methodological challenges involved with researching secret geographies. This case study therefore looks in several directions ¿ to work on the geographies of scale, research on the geographies of knowledge and work on secrecy in science and technology studies.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Caitriona McLeish
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:05
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2012 15:03
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