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January 08, 2013

Negotiating Independence: new directions in the histories of decolonisation and the Cold War

Call for Papers
Negotiating Independence: new directions in the histories of decolonisation and the Cold War

3-4 May 2013
University of Cambridge
The advent of decolonisation shares more than a chronological partnership with the Cold War. While the general economic, political, social, and ideological connections between decolonisation and the Cold War have been acknowledged, a more detailed interrogation of the confluence of these two phenomena is now beginning to emerge. The ideological battle between communism and capitalism encompassed not only political systems of power but also contentious ideas about states’ social structures and economies. Both decolonisation and the Cold War were also imaginative projects. This conference will interrogate what role differing ideas about political, economic and social organization played in how individuals involved in decolonisation negotiated the bid for independence. The aim is to draw together Cold War and imperial historians in a scholarly discussion that is too often isolated into separate fields of study. It will bring together the latest research from young scholars and established academics who are leading the way in this new approach to twentieth century history that sees the Cold War and the end of empire not only as diplomatic phenomena but as ideologically driven political, economic and social projects as well.
This conference reassesses the impact of the Cold War on colonial administrators and anti-colonialists while further considering how Cold War leaders also were forced to wrestle with decolonisation’s outcomes. Anti-colonial nationalists negotiated a complex system of international relations complicated by distinct ideological binaries: their rhetoric and policies consequently assumed Cold War overtones as they struggled to define their place in the postcolonial world. Political leaders in the Soviet Union, the United States, and their allies also sometimes framed early Cold War tensions in terms of arguments for or against the continuation of Europe’s empires. Some questions the conference hopes to address include: To what extent did Cold War rhetoric dictate bids for independence? How did the politics of anti-racism and colonial solidarity fit into international relations dominated by an ideological battle between communism and capitalism? How did those involved in decolonisation decipher ways to employ the new world power alliances to their advantage? How did Cold War binaries influence postcolonial social and economic development and nation-building? In what ways did anti-colonial leaders attempt to resist the Cold War environment and develop independent identities for themselves and their countries? And how did decolonisation force the Soviets, Americans, and their allies to revise their own global strategies?
In particular, the conference aims to identify new themes and directions in scope, as well as different methodological approaches to studying decolonisation and the Cold War. A keynote address on methodology will be given by Matthew Connelly (Columbia University) and Caroline Elkins (Harvard University).
The deadline for submitting paper proposals is 4 February 2013. Proposals should include a title and an abstract of no more than 400 words, as well as the author’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and institutional affiliation, and should be emailed to el317@cam.ac.uk and l.e.james@lse.ac.uk.

Posted by katemw at January 8, 2013 08:00 AM

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