The end of the future : the development of the South African Chemical and Biological Weapons Research Programme, 1981-1991.
This thesis is an examination of the relationship between the institutional and practical workings of the late Apartheid state's Chemical and Biological Weapons Research Programme, code-named Project Coast. It is written against the background of the changing nature of the South African state in that period, and presents a partial picture of that change. The greatest part of the thesis, however, is a history of the Research Programme itself. The Programme's institutional structure was developed around the charismatic figure of Dr Wouter Basson: following Weberian arguments, it is clear that his charisma was used, within the bureaucratic structure of the Programme, to legitimate the scientific research projects undertaken. Two of these projects are examined in the body of this thesis: the first of these is an attempt to develop a new form of tear gas, the second is the attempt to develop a new form of contraceptive. The animating ideologies of these research projects are compared to each other, and to the supposedly hegemonic ideologies of the changing state, revealing discrepancies between these grand structures and their local workings. The importance of Basson's charismatic authority is emphasised by the rapid dissolution of Project Coast following his withdrawal from his leadership position at the end of the 1980s. By the end of the thesis, then, it seems clear that, within the legitimating aura of Basson's authority, the scientists at Project Coast developed a set of racial and political ideologies that more little to no substantive relationship to the seemingly hegemonic ideologies of the late Apartheid state, of which Project Coast was an organ.