CfP: Africa and the Socialist Europe during Decolonization and the Cold War

Call for papers, deadline 15 August 2023

Editors: Jan Záhořík (University of West Bohemia)

Milorad Lazic (George Washington University)

Anja Schade (University Hildesheim)

In the last two decades, roughly since Westad’s highly cited and influential 2005 book The Global Cold War, research on the Cold War has increased with particular attention to Global South and the former Eastern Bloc. With more and more archival materials being declassified, researchers now have an amazing opportunity to analyze and study multiple relations between both main blocs and the Third World (Global South). Focus of researchers have shifted from rather ideological to more pragmatic layers of the Cold War and to interlinks between decolonization and the Cold War (e.g. Schmidt 2007, etc.), colonialism and postcolonialism, as well as various forms of pan-isms (such as Pan-Africanism, Pan-Islamism, etc.) and their role in the Cold War reality. One of the issues that is still rather under-researched is still the transfer of various forms of Socialism and/or Marxism-Leninism from the Eastern Bloc to Africa, and their “Africanization”. By this we mean different perspectives on Socialism or Marxism/Leninism in various African countries, pragmatic acceptance of socialist vocabulary or co-existence of secular Socialism with religion (typically Islam and Christianity). At the same time, we may observe very pragmatic diplomatic efforts of many African leaders trying to keep partners from both sides of the Cold War arena (e.g., Haile Selassie, Julius Nyerere, etc.) within the context of the Non-Alignment movement.

This collective volume seeks to explore in much closer detail various forms of collaboration (technical, educational, political, security-related) between the European Socialist countries (mainly but not only Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, etc.) with Africa in the era of decolonization and the Cold War, roughly from 1948 to 1991.

The volume will include chapters related to 3 groups dedicated to the following sub-themes:

1) Socialism in Africa and Its varieties

- In this section we seek chapters that discuss various forms of socialism in Africa (e.g., in relation to religion) and their reflection by the European Socialist countries; confusions and misunderstandings in building socialism in Africa, etc.

- This also includes chapters that discuss all forms of political collaboration and political indoctrination on the trajectory socialist Europe-Africa, this can include party-building, training in Marxism-Leninism, pragmatic acceptance of socialist-political vocabulary by the African elites, and equally, it includes ways of
interpreting and accepting Marxism/Leninism or other -Isms, and the question of agency, etc.

2) Education, Cultural Exchange and Technical Training

- In this section we seek chapters that discuss “soft” forms of collaboration between the European Socialist countries and Africa, primarily in education, scholarships, technical training, transfer of knowledge, etc.

- We also seek chapters which deal with all forms of cultural exchange such as socialist architecture, organization of cultural events, reflections of socialism in African literature, construction of socialist monuments, sites of memory, etc.

3) Security Cooperation

- In this section we seek chapters that discuss cooperation between the European Socialist countries and Africa in the security area, including all forms of military and strategic cooperation, arms trade, intelligence and counter-intelligence, etc.

- Several Socialist countries had an enormous security/intelligence personnel in Africa during the Cold War which was supposed to monitor not only the activities of its own citizens, but primarily the African counterparts and the Western positions in Africa; new reflections on these aspects of the Cold War are welcome.

The editors welcome chapters that bring new insight into the studied phenomena. The abstracts of no more than 600 words should be sent until 15th August to the following email addresses: