CfP: Transnational relations between Eastern Europe/USSR and the Middle East, the Cold War in the twentieth century

30.06.2017 Add to calendar

Conference: 22.02.2018 - 23.02.2018

Part of a Université de Genève/Princeton University partnership grant co-directed by Sandrine Kott (UNIGE) and Cyrus Schayegh (PU).

Application: Send a paper title, an abstract of max. 300 words, and a brief CV by June 30th 2017 to and

Scholars of international relations have recently developed a growing interest in the multifaceted relations, during the Cold War, between Eastern-European and Soviet states and their Middle Eastern counterparts. This workshop wishes to go a step further.

By taking into account the longer history of these relations, we wish to highlight the deeper interconnectedness of these regions. Issues that frame the workshop and that prospective participants may address, include the following questions.

- First, an initial workshop held in Princeton in February 2017 highlighted cross-imperial circulations (including Ottoman-Habsburg-Russian) at the end of the 19th century. Particularly influential actors included scholars, journalists, and merchants, who sometimes worked through religious (Muslim, Orthodox) solidarity networks while also transnationally connecting those regions to third areas, especially in Asia and Europe. We wish to continue this reflection by looking at networks of actors who facilitated relations during the Cold War. Did religious beliefs and solidarities still play a role? What role did political and non-political ties created already in the interwar period, for instance by anti-colonial activists, play? What about pre-war economic ties? To which extent were such ties used by state actors? And how did the broader Cold War context – including development competition with Western countries large (USA) and small (West Germany; France; Britain) – affect inter-regional ties?

- Secondly, over the longue durée, both Eastern Europe and the Middle East have been constructed as an “Orient” of Western Europe. To which extent could one see them, jointly, as a double – or even linked up – periphery of Europe? What would such a view mean, from the linked Middle East /Eastern Europe-Soviet as well as from the Western European perspective during the Cold War? What role does it play for the definition of real and imaginary diplomatic, cultural, and even economic borders? And what impact does it have on the political and economic relations between the two regions?

- A related third question would be whether the non-aligned movement of the 1950s/60s could be re-interpreted along these lines. Could one see its (south) Eastern European (Yugoslavia) and Middle Eastern members as (re)-creating an Eastern Mediterranean space detached from the West, for instance?

We are interested in applications that have a firm empirical grounding and make a clear conceptual contribution, taking into accounts questions such as those outlined above, but we are open to others. Historians as well as other scholars in the humanities are encouraged to apply.​

Organised by: 
Sandrine Kott, Université de Genève / Cyrus Schayegh, Princeton University
University of Geneva
Event language(s): 
Cost information
Event cost: 
0.00 CHF