20 Jun 2022 - 21 Jun 2022 All day Alison Richard Building


Please note this is a closed event.


  • George Bodie (University if Cambridge)

Keynote speaker

  •  James Mark (University of Exeter)


This workshop will explore the cultures of socialist internationalism and solidarity that emerged during the Cold War, with a particular focus on how these practices functioned as a space of interaction between citizens and states across – and beyond – the Eastern Bloc. Recent scholarship investigating East-South relations, entanglements and connections during the Cold War has often focused on the mobilities that these links engendered. While significant numbers made the journey from the socialist states of East and Central Europe to Africa, Asia and Latin America and vice versa, these groups—be they students, engineers, or holiday makers— were nevertheless a minority, often unrepresentative of the broader whole. Their experiences of socialist internationalism are revealing, but do not speak to the broader experience of living within the regimes that were to a great extent defined by it. 


Supported by:

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Monday 20 June

Coffee and registration


Opening remarks

10.00 - 11.00

Panel 1Depicting solidarity

Chair: George Bodie

Kristin Roth-Ey
‘Solidarity and the pain of others: Soviet documentary film and the Vietnam War

Steffi Marung
‘How to see the socialist (br)other? Visual repertoires for the non-European world in the Soviet Union’

Jessica Dalljo
MLU Halle-Wittenberg

‘Socialist internationalism and solidarity in GDR children’s magazines’

11.30 - 12.30

Panel 2: Solidarity in (post)Yugoslavia

Chair: Celia Donert

Sunnie Rucker-Chang
‘(Re)imagining solidarities, (Re)imagining Serbia: student mobility, the non-aligned movement, and the “World in Serbia”’

Helena Trenkic
University of Cambridge
‘Negotiating acceptable forms of activism: student contributions to Yugoslav non-alignment, 1964-1981.’

Jelena Đureinović
‘Veterans, memory and networks of solidarity: Yugoslavia and the Global South during the Cold War’

12.30 - 14.00

Chadwick Room, Selwyn College

14.00 - 15.00

Panel 3: Transnational Solidarities

Chair: James Mark

Eric Burton
‘Frontline citizens. Liberation movements, transnational solidarity and the making of anti-imperialist citizenship in Tanzania’ (Zoom)

Andrew Ivaska
‘Winning one war, losing another: Dar es Salaam, ‘sixties relay stations, and the paradox of political attachment’ (Zoom)

Sara Pugach
‘Negotiating solidarity: Cameroonian students as mediators between the German Democratic Republic and the Union des Populations du Cameroun, 1958-1967.’

15.10 - 16.10

Panel 4: Internationalism within the USSR

Chair: Kristin Roth-Ey

Maxim Matusevich
’You Are Not Alone’: Angela Davis and the Soviet dreams of freedom’ (Zoom)

Thom Loyd
‘African protest and the Soviet human rights movement’

Betty Banks
‘Counting visitors: internationalism by numbers in the USSR’

Tuesday 21 June






Coffee and registration

9.15 - 10.00

Keynote: James Mark
‘Connections, erasures, ambivalence: the lives and afterlives of eastern European solidarity in global perspective’

10.00 - 11.00

Panel  5: Solidarity’s institutions

Chair: Celia Donert

Barbora Buzássyová
‘“Side by side with fighting nations”: making the new culture of pro-African solidarity in the campaigns of Czechoslovak Committee for Afro-Asian Solidarity’

Magdaléna Kolomazníková
‘The everyday paradoxes of socialist internationalism: Czechoslovak society and international students through the lens of University of 17th November.’

Lea Börgerding
‘Gendered socialist solidarity? Anti-Apartheid activism and women’s rights behind the Berlin Wall (1975-1985)’

11.30 - 12.30

Panel 6: Antifascism, solidarity and the Greek Civil War

Chair: tbc

Nikola Karasova and Julia Reinke
Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences

‘“We provide aid, like we would help brothers or sisters”? Practicing solidarity with Greek Civil War refugees in socialist Czechoslovakia and the GDR’

Mary Ikoniadou
Leeds Beckett University

‘Periodical publishing as a layer of socialist solidarity in the GDR in the 1960s’

Sarah Binz
‘Canto General: an artefact of international socialist solidarity’

12.30 - 14.00



14.00 - 15.00

Panel 7: Bridging solidarities

Chair: tbc

Franziska Davies
LMU München
‘Beyond “East” and “West”.  A transnational perspective on Polish solidarity and the British miners’ strike in the 1980s’

Raia Apostolova
‘Negotiating friendships: The Bulgarian State caught between Ba’ath and the Communists’ (Zoom)

Marion Dotter
‘With international solidarity against Communism?”

15.10 - 16.10

Panel 8: Late-, Post-, and non-Socialist Solidarity

Chair: George Bodie

Maren Hachmeister
‘“Without solidarity, no people”: When solidarity among caregivers in the East German Volkssolidarität reached upwards from below’

Paul Sprute
‘The afterlives of solidarity: The Solidaritätsdienst International and its re-interpretation of East German socialist internationalism in re-unified Germany’ (Zoom)

Elijah-Matteo Ferrante
‘“Suffer poor children!”. ‘The ‘Kindergate’ scandal and the decline of socialist solidarity between Namibia and the GDR.”

16.10 - 17.00

Closing remarks

Call for papers

If the direct experience of socialist internationalism was limited to a privileged few, how then was it experienced by the majority, for whom actual travel outside of their state was a distant possibility? This workshop asks how socialist internationalism and its attendant ideas of solidarity functioned within socialist societies. Many scholars have treated socialist internationalism as a one-dimensional tool wielded by elites in pursuit of international and domestic legitimacy. But was solidarity always “legitimizing” for socialist states? Did it sometimes engender conflict? Socialist states placed great pressure on their citizens to engage with and show support for nations and movements across the postcolonial world. In the German Democratic Republic, for example, citizens were compelled (sometimes willingly, sometimes begrudgingly) to fund solidarity campaigns from their own pockets via the trade union affiliated Solidarity Committee. Later, in the 1980s, the concept of solidarity became associated with dissidence, most notably in Poland but elsewhere too. How did this shift occur? And given that socialist internationalism and solidarity were so central to daily life under state socialism, how did they evolve or live on after the collapse of the regimes that fostered them?

 We are particularly interested in papers that tackle the following themes: 

  • To what extent did solidarity and socialist internationalism, particularly with non-European states, follow a bloc-wide pattern? Can we speak of a broadly shared timeline between the different states? Which states represent outliers in this regard? Similarly, were the aims and drivers of these projects similar across the region, or were they distinct in each state? 
  • How was socialist internationalism paid for across the socialist world? What did solidarity look like on the ground? Which institutions and agents were involved in implementing internationalism and solidarity in everyday life, and what practices and events did they produce? 
  • Through which cultural forms was solidarity communicated or reproduced in state socialist societies? How was it depicted and received in media, the arts, or design? 
  • How did socialist internationalism relate to the political legitimation of socialist state power in different countries across the bloc and to the legitimacy of socialist elites? If international solidarity was in part designed to shore up political legitimacy among populations ‘on the home front’, where did it have the greatest impact? How did the politics of solidarity engender conflict between citizen and state? 
  • How did practices of solidarity and socialist internationalism intersect with other quotidian experiences of life in socialist societies, for example, informed by race, nationality, class, gender, or religion? 
  • In Poland and elsewhere, solidarity became associated with dissidence in the 1980s, both as a naming convention for dissident groups and a means of critiquing the state. How did different groups and activists deploy the term to critique the state? 
  • In what ways did socialist internationalism live on beyond the decline and fall of socialism? To what extent can we see its afterlives in the contemporary politics of Eastern and Central Europe? 

Please send proposals (300-400 words) together with a short CV to George Bodie by 18 February 2022. Participants will be invited to contribute to a journal special issue based on the workshop papers. 

The call for papers pdf can be downloaded.

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