Recent years have shown a fast-growing interest in the internationalist policies and cultures of the Communist Warsaw Pact countries, in the global engagements of East European actors, and in the active roles of smaller states in international relations during the Cold War. A variety of scholars have shown that in the post-Stalin era, especially in the context of decolonisation, a wealth of interactions and interconnections developed among the First, Second, and Third Worlds. East European countries expanded their relationships with post-colonial states, while simultaneously amplifying their contacts with the west.
The internationalism of the socialist Balkans has also awakened some interest. Most recently, a few works adopting transnational history approaches have been published on topics such as circulation of experts, goods, ideas and culture. In the “traditional” diplomatic and international relations history, most attention has been dedicated to Yugoslavia as one of the leading states of the Non-Aligned Movement, followed by Romania whose leader Nicolae Ceaușescu also tried to make a name for himself on the stage of world politics. Less researched are Bulgaria’s activities, while research on Albania is still predominantly in its infancy. Many of these interactions, exchanges, and circulations were possible because of accelerating bilateralism engineered by Balkan governments. However, another site of global entanglement for the region were international organisations, particularly the United Nations and its specialized agencies (UNESCO, FAO, WHO, ILO, etc.). Last but not least, anti-colonial and counter-hegemonic solidarities fuelled common agendas between socialist states and regional political actors including in Greece and Turkey.
Having in mind these recent trends in Cold War studies and the state of the art concerning the Balkans, the conference has three main goals. First, a) it aims to facilitate a forum for presenting and discussing ongoing research on internationalisms of the socialist Balkans. We are interested in all aspects of this theme and believe that combing traditional State-centred approaches with social and cultural history can best help to comprehensively understand the phenomenon under scrutiny. Second, b) bringing together experts on all four socialist Balkan countries provides the opportunity to adopt a regional outlook and to discuss comparative and entangled history approaches. What similarities and what mutual influences can be observed despite the political fragmentation of the region and the intra-regional rivalries? What was the impact of global developments and how did internationalist engagements and domestic policies influence each other? Third c) extending the question of commonalities across the Balkans, the conference is interested in assessing regional specifics as well as similarities with other parts of Europe and the world.
Altogether, the conference examines the complex interactions between politics, economy, ideology, mentality, identity and culture as well as between national, regional and global contexts. In doing so, it aims to comprehensively illuminate a comparatively understudied topic as well as to integrate Balkan internationalisms into the history of Cold War international relations and global interconnections.
Keynote speaker: Lorenz Lüthi (McGill University)
This conference will be held 17 and 18 June 2021. It will be hosted by the University of Vienna. Depending on the course of the Covid19 pandemic, the conference will either take place entirely online or in a hybrid format, with a smaller in-person conference supplementing the online conference. All speakers will be able to present virtually, if they wish so. Should we be able to run the conference in a hybrid format, financial support for travel, accommodation and testing is available. We ask that contributors also explore funding opportunities at their home institutions as well. This conference is funded by the University of Vienna and Academy of Finland.
We invite proposals consisting of an abstract of no more than 300 words in addition to a short CV. These should be sent to by 30 April 2021 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Successful applicants will be notified by 15 May 2021. We will not ask for written papers before the event, but at the conference a plan for a common publication will be discussed.
Rinna Kullaa (Tampere University)
Idrit Idrizi (University of Vienna, Institute for East European History)
Bogdan Iacob (Institute of History in Bucharest, Romanian Academy)
Jure Ramšak (Science and Research Centre Koper, Slovenia)
Jan Zofka (Leibniz-Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe GWZO Leipzig)