The project’s general objective is to identify, during three decades of development (1960s-1980s), within five fields (economy, law, demography, theater and historical studies), socialist experts’ contributions to international debates and institution building. We will also analyze the role of such interactions in the process of change in various communist regimes (with a focus on Romania but always mindful of regional contexts in East Central and Southeast Europe).
The five expert communities are highly representative for unearthing postwar geographies and milieus alternative to bipolarism if they are situated in relation withthe issue of development. The latter was the cardinal problem of inter-governmental and trans-systemic debates from 1960 to 1980s. it was increasingly defined as a total phenomenon. Development could not be disentangled from the past, local culture, social change, legislation, education, or demography. Consequently, the communities which we target cover complementary agendas central to the transfer of knowledge within clusters of national, regional, and global environments:
- Economic, legal, and demographic experts were central to state socialisms’ involvement in debates about international economic and juridical orders as well as “the population”
- Historians and theater practioners were at the forefront of their respective regimes’ cultural diplomacy, while inextricably tied to identity and aesthetic controversies of the post-1960s
The project focuses on transfers, communication, mutual influences, and adaptations within the five expert communities in two main contexts:
International institutions – United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the International Economic Association; U.N.’s Population Commission; U.N.E.S.C.O.’s International Association for Southeast European Studies as well as the International Committee for Historical Studies; and the International Theatre Institute.
Events that were landmarks in global debates (U.N. Convention of the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in 1968 and the World Population Conference in 1974).
TRAJECTORIES OF RESEARCH
- Institutional studies that flesh out socialist experts’ function as agents of change and modernity in global, regional, and national contexts.
- The role of international conferences in activating the global networks generated by the the institutions which defined the history of the expert communities targeted by the project.
- Counterpoising periodizations and biographies. We contrast specific timeframes characteristic of the five expert communities and biographies of individuals active beyond national frameworks with established narratives and periodizations of the Cold War.
QUESTIONS & MEANS
- How to identify periodizations within specific fields or concerning phenomena that are complementary to or autonomous of super-power competition and ideological conflict?
The question is how do transformations such as de-Stalinization, peaceful coexistence, détente, de-colonization, European and socialist integration, or “the new Cold War” affect the activity of the five expert communities within international institutions or their contributions to debates on global issues? Which are the phases of these entanglements and how can they be positioned in relation with established periodizations of the Cold War?
- How to untangle the Cold War from all the other strands of twentieth-century history?
How do discourses of culture, development, and community represent notonly integrative elements of socialist visions of modernity, but also global orlarger concernsrelated to specific problems characteristic of longue-duréemodernization goals? We will identify communalities and exchanges acrossideological divides rooted in various imperatives and responses tochange in economic, legal, social, and cultural realms.
- How to overcome the issue of unilateral hegemonic agency?
For example, the Soviet Union’s relationship with Eastern Europe and the Third World; or U.S.A./U.S.S.R.’s roles in the United Nation’s institutional system and other inter/non-governmental institutions.
There are five approaches to answering these research questions so that we deconstruct state-centric narratives and established readings of the Cold War:
- the integration of national agendas within international milieus, particularly inter-and non-governmental institutions.
- the need to de-center bi-polarism through an analysis of the post-1945 period that avoids overemphasizing the Soviet Union-United States anatagonism or the ideological divide capitalism vs. communism.
- the imperative of bringing into the story the impact of (semi-)peripheries (e.g. European communist satellites, Third World countries, or China) on larger transformations of the second half of the twentieth century.
- the re-interpretation of the Cold War as a struggle of competing modernities and as an order of overlapping and clustered boundaries (national vs. regional; military/ideological blocs vs. international institutions; continental vs. global).
- a renewed focus on accounts that overcome the limitations of diplomatic-political history and the unilateral attention to nation-states.
Our fundamental methodological perspective is the transnational and interdisciplinary approach to postwar global history.
Tools of investigation: institutional modeling and network analysis; biographical investigation and interviews; critical discourse analysis; mapping information flows, and knowledge transfers; re-interpreting decision-making processes based on economic, social, epistemic, and cultural variables.
The project will rely heavily on archival research, each team member using specific collections pertaining to his/her contribution in completing the operational objectives.
The main collections explored are: Romanian Communist Party’s Central Committee (with its various sections); the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Council of Ministers; the Academy of Social and Political Sciences; U.N. and U.N.E.S.C.O. archives (New York, Geneva, Paris, London); Open Society Archives.
We will examine academic journals and publications, specific to each of the five expert communities, issued since the 1950s, as well as bulletins of national commissions affiliated to international institutions.
By spending categories (in Romanian):
By project phases (in Romanian):