Socialism Goes Global: Cold War Connections Between the ‘Second’ and ‘Third Worlds’ 1945-1991

Global-South-America-Brazil-and-Argentina

James Mark
History Department, University of Exeter

The University of Exeter, in collaboration with the Universities of Oxford, Columbia, Leipzig and Belgrade, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and University College London, has recently been awarded a major Arts and Humanities Research Council Grant (2014-18) to address the relationship between what were once called the ‘Second World’ (from the Soviet Union to the GDR) and the ‘Third World’ (from Latin America to Africa to Asia).

In the post-war period, as both decolonization and new forms of globalisation accelerated, new linkages opened up, and existing ties were remade, between these ‘worlds’. Contacts multiplied through, for instance, the development of political bonds; economic development and aid; health and cultural and academic projects; as well as military interventions.

Yet these important encounters, and their impacts on national, regional and global histories, have hitherto only played a marginal role in accounts of late 20th century globalization, which have mainly focused on links between the West and former colonies, or between the countries of the ‘Global South’.

There is still little study of the interaction between these areas, where commonly shared – and contested – beliefs in the power of socialist modernization and anti-imperial culture opened up possibilities of meaningful political, cultural and economic transfers during the Cold War and its aftermath.

Seven academics, two postdoctoral fellows and two PhDs will address both how socialist states in Europe crafted a global role for themselves in the postwar period, and how these international engagements reshaped socialist politics, societies and cultures ‘back home’. In doing so, it seeks to provide new insights into the circulation of ideas during the Cold War and to explore ‘the socialist world’ as a dynamic hub of global interactions during the second half of the twentieth century.

The project’s first conference, ‘Alternative Encounters: The ‘Second World’ and the ‘Global South’, 1945-1991’ will be held at the Imre Kertész Kolleg, Jena, Germany  3-4 November 2014.

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