Global Advocacy or Self-Interested Relativism? Socialist Romania, International Organizations, and the Quest for Economic Development (1960s-1980s)

by Vlad Pașca, at the conference The Other Globalisers: How the Socialist and the Non-Aligned World Shaped the Rise of Post-War Economic Globalisation, University of Exeter, 6-7 July 2017

Since early 1960s, socialist Romania insulated itself within the Comecon due to its nationalist and anti-hegemonic perspectives, which translated into fending away of cooperation projects with other member states. This position though was accompanied by a renewed readiness towards trans-systemic cooperation on the European and the global scene. In order to satisfy its developmental drive, two strategies were designed by the party leadership in tandem with economic experts. First, they emphasized Romania’s European affiliation as a common denominator in negotiating trade relations and economic cooperation before and during the negotiation at the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). Second, the country’s representatives, both in international organizations and in bilateral relations, made efforts towards the recognition of Romania’s status as developing socialist country. Simultaneously, Romania’s multiple initiatives in both the European (UN Economic Commission for Europe, CSCE) and global organizations or agencies (UNCTAD or the group of 77) shaped its image of world-peace promoter and advocate of a new international economic order. Continue reading Global Advocacy or Self-Interested Relativism? Socialist Romania, International Organizations, and the Quest for Economic Development (1960s-1980s)

The Other Globalisers: How the Socialist and the Non-Aligned World Shaped the Rise of Post-War Economic Globalisation

International Conference, 6-7 July 2017, University of Exeter, UK

Join the 1989 after 1989 research team for our conference on the “Other Globalisers” – how the socialist and the non-aligned world shaped the rise of post-war economic globalisation. Based at Exeter, this conference is the second in a series of events exploring how processes and practices that emerged from the socialist world shaped the re-globalised world of our times.

Conference synopsis

In the wake of the Second World War, the world economy began to ‘reglobalise’ – following the disintegrative processes of the interwar period. This story has most often been told as the final triumph of a neoliberal international order led by the West. Recent research, however, suggests that the creation of our modern interconnected world was not driven solely by the forces of Western capitalism, nor was it the only model of global economic interdependence that arose in the second half of the twentieth century. This conference aims to rethink the histories of postwar globalisation by focusing on the socialist and non-aligned world, whose roles in the rise of an economically interconnected world have received substantially less attention.

This conference aspires to address a wide variety of processes, practices and projects – such as efforts to create alternative systems of international trade, new business practices, through to theoretical conceptualisations of economic interconnectedness – and examine a broad range of actors, such as e.g. governments, experts, international institutions, and business ventures. It will also explore whether such initiatives were alternative at all: as recent research has suggested, actors from these worlds could be contributors to the emerging neoliberal consensus, as well as to other forms of regional economy and global trade that survive to this day. We also hope to encourage an interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars using different approaches to global interconnectedness, and/or working on a variety of regions (e.g. Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union).

See the conference programme here.

Transnational and Global Dimensions of Justice and Memory Processes in Europe and Latin America

Interested in transnational and global dimensions of justice and memory processes? Our colleague Raluca Grosescu is co-organizer of the conference on Transnational and Global Dimensions of Justice and Memory Processes in Europe and Latin America, taking place in Paris on the 8-9th of June, at the Romanian Cultural Institute (Institut Culturel Roumain).

See the full presentation and program here: 

http://passes-present.eu/en/node/42322

Justice and memory processes that had accompanied the “third wave of democratisation” have been the subject of a large body of academic literature. These works have commonly taken certain approaches. Some have analysed these processes within national borders or by providing comparative accounts of countries seen as discrete units,
disconnected from transnational or global developments. Others, by contrast, have tried to account for the criminalization of dictatorships and conflicts in terms of the emergence of international norms based on an ethics of human rights and a “cosmopolitan memory” – often driven by a decontextualized remembrance of the Holocaust. This scholarship has however tended to overgeneralize global trends without always grasping the complexity of local attempts at dealing with the past. In the last ten years, a third approach, focusing on specific transnational entanglements, has gained ground. This emerging literature has started to analyze empirically transnational activism, exchanges of knowledge and expertise at bilateral, regional or international levels, the impact of legal and mnemonic narratives outside their countries of origin, and the role of international organizations and NGOs in dealing with mass violence.

Focusing on Europe and Latin America, this conference aims to take stock of this transnational turn in justice and memory studies and to develop a socio-historical analysis of the circulation of norms, repertoires of collective action and models adopted to deal with the legacies of authoritarian regimes and armed conflicts. It seeks to trace the interconnections and mutual influences of these processes both within Europe and Latin America and between the two regions, as well as the mobilizations of European and Latin American actors in international institutions, global NGOs, or at venues on other continents.

Together but Apart: Balkan Historians, the Global South, and UNESCO’s “History of Humanity”

by Bogdan C. Iacob

at New Europe College, Bucharest, 3 May, 2017.

The presentation showed how AIESEE (International Association for Southeast European Studies) and pressures from local political regimes propelled Balkan scholars into high profile positions within UNESCO’s project for a new world history entitled History of Humanity. I focused on the Cold War time frame of implementation of this global initiative: 1978 to 1989. History of Humanity aimed to create a universal narrative that reflected the radical transformations which had taken place since mid-1950s: de-colonization, the rise of the Global South in the UN-system, the critique of Eurocentrism/Westerncentrism, and, most importantly, the ever-growing emphasis on the originality of national cultures. This was UNESCO’s second attempt at a world history. The first was History of Mankind, which had been published from 1963 to 1976. I argued that the new edition created two horizons of opportunity for Southeast European scholars. First, the visibility they acquired within AIESEE consolidated their international academic status. Second and more importantly, many of the general issues debated within AIESEE were exported into the preparatory meetings for History of Humanity and later in its published volumes. Taking advantage of UNESCO and Romanian archives, the presentation discussed multiple levels of political and intellectual interaction – national-regional-global. History of Humanity was a context of epistemic internationalization within which Balkan historians could affirm regional and national identity on the basis of pre-existent conceptual, institutional, and personnel alignments. However, this cross-fertilization between local and international contexts cannot be detached from the tumultuous years of the late Cold War. By 1989, both Southeast Europe and UNESCO had suffered shocks that radically affected Balkan historians’ patterns of self-representation, both at home and abroad.

Socialist Experts and Trans-Systemic Networks of Economic Knowledge during the Cold War

by Vlad Pașca

at New Europe College, Bucharest, 26 April, 2017.

The presentation explores the main features of cooperation between economic experts during the pre-CSCE (Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe) era (1947-1975) under the aegis of the most comprehensive all-European organization of the period, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). At scientific and policy levels, contacts and exchanges between socialist and capitalist economic experts were circumscribed by common priorities and challenges faced by the UNECE staff and governments from both sides of the Iron Curtain. Continue reading Socialist Experts and Trans-Systemic Networks of Economic Knowledge during the Cold War

CFP: Spaces of Interaction between the Socialist Camp and the Global South

International Conference Spaces of Interaction between the Socialist Camp and the Global South.  Knowledge Production, Trade, and Scientific-Technical Cooperation in the Cold War Era

Date and location: 26-27 October, 2017, University of Leipzig

Deadline for submissions: 30 April, 2017.

International studies on Cold War history have overcome the simplified model of two superpower–dominated blocs defined by a rivalry along an impenetrable Iron Curtain. Transnational history approaches have reintroduced the explanatory axis of an economic divide between the Global North and the Global South. Other than in previous Cold War approaches, the (semi-)peripheries have taken centre stage. The recent debate has highlighted the significance of relations between Soviet bloc and developing countries in shaping the spatial order of the Cold War. “Socialist globalization” has become an integral part of the global post-war economic expansion. Contributing to this debate, our conference will focus on concrete spaces of economic East-South interactions. Transnational hubs, institutions, and infrastructures will be taken as a starting point to identify actors, interests, and power relations.

The conference is organized by Project B3 “East-South Relations during the Global Cold War”, which is part of the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1199: “Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition” at the University of Leipzig. The SFB is developing a historical narrative about the change of spatial orders under global conditions and a systematic approach that establishes a typology of spatial formats by exploring different scales of territories, networks, chains, enclaves, corridors, (special) zones, as well as the various indications of virtual and transnational spaces. Within this framework, Project B3 “East-South Relations in the Global Cold War” aims to challenge Cold War perspectives that take “Moscow’s” hegemony and centralized control by national communist parties for granted. To this end, the project asks to what degree were the borders of the Soviet bloc actually blurred and redrawn as a result of relations and interactions between the socialist camp and the Global South (with a special focus on African countries).

Read the rest of the announcement here.