Skip to main content
Austin Cooper

Austin Cooper

Assistant Professor // History

Assistant Professor // Cornerstone

Contemporary International History, History of Science and Technology

Office and Contact

Room: UNIV 311

Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 1:30-2:30 pm



HIST 33205 - The Nuclear Age

Austin R. Cooper is an Assistant Professor of History at Purdue. He is a historian of international politics since 1945 with a focus on nuclear technologies.

He is working on a book project, Saharan Fallout: French Explosions in Algeria and Nuclear Weapons in the Global Cold War, about France’s emergence as a nuclear weapon state during the 1960s. The book highlights Algerian contestation and accommodation of French nuclear testing in the Sahara Desert as an instructive example of nuclear claims-making beyond the nonproliferation and deterrence frameworks. Related scholarship, also drawing on his multinational archival research, has appeared in the Nonproliferation Review and Cold War History.

He is starting a new project about radiological threat perception and the War on Terror. His research interests include the global Cold War and decolonization struggles, international and political history, and nuclear policy.

In the College of Liberal Arts, he is affiliated with the Sociogenomics initiative. His research on nuclear technologies examines political claims based on radiation exposure—or the possibility of this exposure—from nuclear attacks, nuclear weapons tests, and nuclear energy accidents. The research asks how these claims, which can invoke genetic damage, affect nuclear decision-making and social perceptions of these choices.

Additionally, he is associated faculty in the Center for International Studies at SciencesPo Paris, where he contributes to the Nuclear Knowledges program. Prior to joining Purdue, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship supported by the Stanton Foundation in the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a fellowship in the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. He earned his PhD in History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania.

He is willing to advise research projects on nuclear history and related approaches to international security since 1945.

Recent Publications

"The Argentella scandal: why French officials did not make Corsica a nuclear test site in 1960," The Nonproliferation Review (2023) DOI: 10.1080/10736700.2023.2187529