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.

The paper discusses four types of activities pertaining to East-West cooperation: international conferences, training programmes, institutionalized consultations (under the Committee for Trade Development and the group of Senior Economic Advisers to the UNECE Governments), and direct collaboration with the UNECE Secretariat and its subsidiary bodies. The contribution focuses on the institutional and social aspects of the socialist economic experts’ participation to the UNECE’s cooperative framework and to the pan-European epistemic community. The main political phenomena that shaped trans-systemic interactions are taken into consideration, along with the interests and limitations involved in such collaborative network.

The study argues that socialist economic experts that collaborated with UNECE representatives and capitalist partners contributed to harmonization in the fields of economics, trade and policy-making from a transnational perspective, thus maximizing the positive effects of détente on the continent and promoting a European identity.

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