In my third year I’ve got to write a dissertation. My time in Kazakhstan provided me with a quite comprehensive overview of the situation in Central Asia, so it would probably be a good idea to write about that. One of my professors was investigating what happened to the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and suggested I take up where he left off. Unfortunately, despite visitng their office a few times I never actually got to meet with anyone from the CPK. There’s probably information out there, but I’m already at a disadvantage given I don’t speak Kazakh or Russian.
Another option is to write about outer space as a domain of international relations. I’ve had an interest in the soviet space program ever since reading about the sputnik satellite and studying for the Astronomy GCSE. I understood fairly quickly that Kazakhstan is an important place in the history of space exploration, and I’ve decided I want to explore that. Here are some things I could talk about:
- Internationalisation of space, from the interkosmos programme to the international space station.
- The rocket/missile duality. The missile as a tool of the military-industrial complex, the rocket as an instrument of civilian and scientific organisations. The fundamental technology of rockets and missiles is almost identical, which places them in a strained relationship.
- Governance of space. And without elaborating on the fanciful details, all the schemes which people have imagined as potential regimes for govering space.
- Attempts by developing countries to gain access to space, this includes North Korea’s recent rocket launch, the involvement of OTRAG in the abortive space programmes of Libya and Zaire, the Chinese space program, and the Nicaraguan space program.
- The conquest of space as a combined human goal which has the potential to unite people across national borders and foster true international unity. After all where is there more genuine fraternity between nations than in the modules of the International Space Station? Or do these national divisions still exist, even up in orbit?
- How the race to the South Pole and the signing of the Antarctic treaty can be seen as a precursor to the space race and the signing of the Outer Space treaty. There are a lot of similarities in the way states created rules governing uninhabited space.