CENTRAL Workshop: Socialist (Dis)Connections

To say that we live in an increasingly globalized world has become a worn-out truism. Yet, despite its obviousness, the fact that the globe is more connected than ever calls for scholarly interventions that historicize and problematize the status quo in ways that go beyond the still-dominant North-West axis. The turn toward global socialism that emerged during the past decade has highlighted the complex and dynamic nature of the global Cold War in which the socialist world was all but immune to regime changes, political tribulations, and postcolonial reconfigurations. This new epistemic framework, which involves the interdisciplinary examination of “alternative globalizations” (e.g. Mark, Kalinovsky & Marung 2020), “global socialism” (e.g. Mark & Apor 2015), “socialist world-making” (Stanek 2020) or “socialist internationalism” (e.g. Babiracki & Jersild 2016), provides new avenues for research on the Cold War as a political and military conflict, lived reality, and visionary horizon.

Studying the Cold War as a fundamentally multipolar and global set of phenomena involves bringing globalization studies, Cold War history, decolonization, and scholarship on Eastern and Southern Europe, Africa, and Asia into conversation. Importantly, this also means recognizing that both the Second and the Third World played an active role in shaping the ebb and flow of the Cold War dynamic on the macro and the micro level. The investigation into global socialism brings to light a history of a dynamic, multifaceted and regionally-diverse (e.g. Kalinovsky 2019) sphere of mutual entanglements. While the history of the GDR’s involvement in the Third World has been relatively well researched (e.g. Slobodian [ed.] 2015; Hong 2015; Schenck 2019), the “betweenness” (Lebow, Mazurek & Wawrzyniak 2019) of Eastern and Southern Europe during the global Cold War is still in need of more systematic analysis.

Building on and contributing to these trends in recent historiography, the “Socialist (Dis)Connections” workshop offers a platform for exploring historical connections and forging academic relationships in manifold ways. Participants will present new research on different aspects of the malleable and pragmatic relations within the socialist world in Eastern and South- ern Europe as well as beyond these regions in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Download the full programm here.