Dr Benoit Pelopidas

Dr Benoit Pelopidas

Dr Benoit Pelopidas
Lecturer in International Relations

G.02, 3 Priory Road,
11 Priory Road, Clifton, Bristol
(See a map)


Telephone Number (0117) 331 0981
favicon My publications on the CISAC website

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Personal profile

I am a lecturer in International Relations at SPAIS, University of Bristol, a member of the Global Insecurities Center, and an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), at Stanford University.

In 2010, I won the "outstanding student essay prize" from the Doreen and Jim McElvany Nonproliferation Essay Competition and in 2011, I was awarded the "Best Graduate Paper 2010" from the International Security Studies Section of the International Studies Association. Also in 2011, I won the SNIS Award 2010 for the Best Thesis in International Studies from the Swiss Network for International Studies.


In a time of crisis with Iran and North Korea, as well as uncertainties concerning future momentum for nuclear disarmament, invoking “the lessons of history” is a very powerful rhetorical device to justify policy choices. This project investigates the authority of those who draw these “lessons of history” and, more generally, those who make claims of knowledge when they interpret nuclear uncertainties. In reality, the secrecy and technicality of nuclear-weapons related issues has considerably limited the number of people who can authoritatively speak to them. Therefore, this project seeks to understand how expertise shapes public discussion of nuclear issues and, as a consequence, policy innovation. It offers and tests a theory of the authority of experts that goes beyond decision-making elites, assesses supposed lessons drawn from the historical record, and analyses the political and epistemological assumptions behind the policy-relevant conclusions of experts. It will identify the conditions of a fruitful public debate on nuclear policy and of innovative nuclear policies.

This is the second part of a larger project on the authority of experts in international security that started with a co-authored book on the role of the American neoconservative and Russian neo-eurasianists in the framing of US and Russian post-Cold war security and defense policies; a second part focuses on nuclear experts and a third part will compare them with their counterparts in the financial world.

At the policy level, I am working with former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Ambassador James E. Goodby on creating awareness and new opportunities for nuclear disarmament.

Fields of interest

Intellectuals, experts and knowledge providers in international security; International Relations Theory; Sociology of Knowledge; International Nuclear History; Nuclear Disarmament, Proliferation, Deterrence; Nuclear weapons and Nuclear Threats in Popular Culture; French International Policies.

Latest publications

  1. Pelopidas, B 2014, ‘Renoncer a l'arme nucleaire: La seduction de l'impossible?’. Presses de Sciences Po
  2. Pelopidas, B & Philippe, S 2014, ‘Les armes nucleaires et l'illusion de la surete’. Mediapart.
  3. Pelopidas, B 2013, ‘Avoir la bombe: Repenser la puissance dans un contexte de vulnerabilite nucleaire globale’. CERIscope.
  4. Pelopidas, B 2013, ‘Why Nuclear Realism is Unrealistic’. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
  5. Pelopidas, B 2013, ‘James J. Wirtz and Peter R. Lavoy, Over the Horizon Proliferation Threats’. Intelligence and National Security.
  6. Pelopidas, B 2012, ‘French nuclear idiosyncrasy: how it affects French nuclear policies towards the United Arab Emirates and Iran’. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, vol 25., pp. 143-169
  7. Pelopidas, B 2012, ‘1540’. in: Nicolas Lemay-Hebert, Delphine Placidi-Frot, Melanie Albaret (eds) Les grandes resolutions du conseil de securite., Paris, pp. 378
  8. Pelopidas, B 2012, ‘Les emergents et la proliferation nucleaire: Une illustration des biais teleologiques en relations internationales et de leurs effets’. Critique Internationale, vol 56., pp. 57-74
  9. Pelopidas, B 2012, ‘Arrogance et catastrophe’. Critique., pp. 710-717
  10. Pelopidas, B 2011, ‘The Oracles of Proliferation: How Experts Maintain a Biased Historical Reading that Limits Policy Innovation’. Nonproliferation Review, vol 18., pp. 297-314

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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