Research Themes

Globalising Socialism

The collapse of the Berlin Wall has come to represent the entry of an isolated region, Eastern Europe, onto the global stage. Our researchers however argue that communist states had in fact long been shapers of a globalizing, interconnecting world. Post World War II, as both decolonisation and new forms of globalisation accelerated, new linkages opened up, and existing ties were remade, between what were once called the ‘Second World’ (from the Soviet Union to the GDR) and the ‘Third World’ (from Latin America to Africa to Asia). Contacts multiplied through, for instance, the development of political bonds; economic development and aid; health and cultural and academic projects; as well as military interventions. Yet these important encounters, and their impacts on national, regional and global histories, have hitherto only played a marginal role in accounts of late 20th century globalization, which have mainly focused on links between the West and former colonies, or between the countries of the ‘Global South’. Led by James Mark, our researchers argue that there was a strong relationship between decolonization and the global influence of socialism, and that '1989' instead marked a choice by local elites about the form that globalisation should take. Placing Eastern Europe in global context, their research provides new perspectives on the relationship between political, economic, and cultural globalisation and the growth and subsequent collapse of communism, highlighting region's links to the West, East Asia, Africa, and Latin America. More specifically, Ljubica Spaskovska researches neutrality and non-alignment, highlighting the interconnectedness of and cross-fertilisation between liberal and socialist internationalisms.