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July 01, 2013

CFP: France, the USSR and the end of the Cold War, 1975-1991

Deadline: August 31, 2013
Sorbonne Cold War History Project
in partnership with the Gorbachev Foundation (Moscow)
and the François Mitterrand Institute (Paris)

Studying French-Soviet relations is important in many regards in order to
understand the complex international dynamics that led to the end of the
Cold War.

Even before the beginning of the Cold War and despite their different
social-political regimes, both states intended to build relations going
beyond their ideological opposition, demonstrated, for instance, by the
1935 French-Soviet Pact or the Normandie-Niemen regiment, a bi-national
air squadron created during World War II.

Later, their participation in opposite Cold War alliances did not prevent
the emergence of a privileged relationship. Under General de Gaulle, these
relations developed in the framework of a “détente” that, on the French
side at least, sought to move beyond the opposition between the Soviet
bloc and the West, and promote the idea of a Europe “from the Atlantic to
the Urals”. Twenty years later, French-Soviet relations played a
significant role in ending the Cold War, evidenced by the signing of the
Charter for a New Europe in Paris in November 1990. This initiative, taken
by French President François Mitterrand, was supported by the Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev, thereby ratifying the end of the “Yalta era”.

Over the past 25 years, French-Soviet relations have been studied
extensively, through the lens of primary sources. Their impact on the
evolution of the European continent and their role in ending the Cold War,
however, received limited attention. Therefore, rather than addressing the
bilateral aspects of French-Soviet relations, this conference will focus
on their international dimension and European implications from the
signing of the Helsinki Accords in 1975 until the end of the USSR in 1991.

Contributions on the following topics are welcome:
1. The first objective will be to explain and clarify, based on primary
sources, the impact of French-Soviet relations on the evolution of the
European context. To what extent did these relations contribute to
challenging or, on the contrary, freezing and perpetuating the Cold War?
Pivotal moments (the Helsinki conference and the 1989 revolutions, for
instance) and key concepts (Pompidou’s détente, Gorbachev’s “common
European home”, Mitterrand’s “confederation”) will be given priority.
2. Reciprocally, the second objective will be to understand how the
European context weighed on French-Soviet relations, and influenced, if
not determined, them. To that aim, important East-West events, such as
Ostpolitik, the 1980 Polish upheaval or the Euromissile crisis, but also
collateral processes, such as the enlargement and deepening of the
European community, the evolution of NATO and the crises within the Warsaw
Pact, will also be considered.
3. Although the diplomatic and geopolitical dimensions will be central,
other aspects could be explored. This might include domestic politics
(notably the influence of the French communist party) or cultural and
economic exchanges, as they relate to the topic of the symposium.
4. Finally, contributions centered around personalities who played a
prominent role, such as political figures and intellectuals, will also be
The conference will take place in Paris in January 2014, and will be
conducted in English.
The proposal (one page) and a resume (half a page), written in English,
will be sent by August 30th, 2013, in PDF format and in a single email, to
Marie-Pierre Rey: Marie-Pierre.Rey@univ-paris1.fr
and Céline Marangé: celine.marange@univ-paris1.fr

We are looking forward to receiving your proposals.

The conveners,
Pr Frédéric Bozo (University Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle)
Pr Marie-Pierre Rey (University Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne)

Posted by parmelee at July 1, 2013 03:39 PM