On UFOs and the Cold War Human Sciences: An Interview with Greg Eghigian

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“UFOs were powered by the Cold War.” The flying saucer era, argues Greg Eghigian, began at the dawn of the Cold War period and came to be viewed through its prism. 


In Spring 2017 Professor Eghigian (Penn State University), visited the Hidden Persuaders project. in this filmed interview he discusses his research on the history of flying saucers. News of UFO sightings burst onto the scene in the early years of the Cold War at a time when brainwashing fears were also rife. Both terms, ‘brainwashing’ and ‘flying saucers’, were prominent from the 1950s onwards, and became ciphers for western anxieties about the ominous Communist East, sources of intrigue for the burgeoning human sciences, and catalysts for new research in the ‘psy’ disciplines.



Greg Eghigian has also written extensively on  psychiatry, madness and deviance on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Here he discusses what a history of ‘anomalous experiences’ can tell us about culture and society, past and present.


Interview by Dr Sarah Marks; films produced by the Derek Jarman Lab.