F – Solidarities, internationalisms, and global movements

Socialist mobilities: Networks, spaces, practices

Event Details

  • Date

    Friday, 26 June - 14:00 – 16:00

    Saturday, 27 June - 8:30–10:30

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    F – Solidarities, internationalisms, and global movements
Convenor
  • Steffi Marung (Leipzig University)
  • Ana Moledo (Leipzig University)
Commentator
  • Eric Burton (University of Innsbruck)
  • Johanna Wolf (Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte)
Panelists
  • Steffi Marung (Leipzig University)
  • Su Lin Lewis (University of Bristol)
  • Ana Moledo (Leipzig University)
  • Immanuel R. Harisch (University of Vienna)
  • Mariana Perry (San Sebastián University)
  • Cyril Cordoba (University of Fribourg)

Papers

  • Steffi Marung
    Socialist mobilities: Developing a research agenda

    Socialist mobilities: Developing a research agenda

    Drawing on literature on development experts from the European socialist camp, this introductory paper develops the research agenda this panel suggests and situates its guiding questions in a flourishing state of the art on the histories of socialism in a global perspective, on transregional encounters during the Cold War and on conceptualizing transnational and transregional mobilities, its limits and drivers for a better understanding of globalization processes in the 20th century. The overarching ambition of the panel is to contribute to an understanding of transregional mobilities of socialist actors during the 20th century and to integrate these into the history of 20th-globalization. Pluralizing communism/ socialism as a claim making device, the panel suggests to trace a triangular geography of its history connecting “East”, “West” and “South”. More specifically, the paper addresses experts engaging with agrarian development. This problem is particularly apt to operationalize the larger conceptual ambition of the panel, as it was not only an issue for the mostly agrarian countries of Eastern Europe, but also for many (post)colonial societies in the Global South. Around this question crystallized discussions about the shape of future postcolonial states, and the meaning of development, the „right path to modernity“, perceptions of backwardness, gendered and racially biased inequalities, and the distribution of economic and political power. This question is inherent to the transformations of empires and decolonization since the beginning of the 20th century and has been addressed by highly mobile experts in and beyond the context of a myriad of national and international organizations.
  • Su Lin Lewis
    Intimate Solidarities: Socialist Women’s Networks Across North and South

    Intimate Solidarities: Socialist Women’s Networks Across North and South

    Existing scholarship on the engagement of northern European socialists with socialist intellectuals, political leaders, and activists in Asia and Africa has tended to focus on the archives of the Socialist International and correspondence between men. This paper draws on the correspondence archives of the German exile Mary Saran, who edited the news bulletin of the Socialist International and led the International Council of Social Democratic Women. She sought to mobilise a transnational network of women across Asia and Africa engaged in issues around labour, the family, and gender equality. Her correspondence includes letters to Asian socialist women involved as female delegates or wives of delegates to the Asian Socialist Conference, both an event and a ‘permanent’ organization based in Rangoon, Burma from 1952-1956. The letters indicate the importance of travel, correspondence, and face-to-face visits between socialist women in fostering intimate bonds of solidarity, including through conversations about activism and the challenges of working motherhood.
  • Ana Moledo
    Anticolonial solidarities between Paris and Algiers: reusing revolutionary channels and rethinking socialism(s)

    Anticolonial solidarities between Paris and Algiers: reusing revolutionary channels and rethinking socialism(s)

    The buzzing tiermondiste scene organized around a French radical left in the 1950s and 1960s has been the object of intense research, particularly with regard to the support networks with the Algerian revolution. After independence, cooperation channels between Paris and Algiers were reoriented to provide assistance and publicity to liberation movements of the Portuguese colonies. Although diplomatic efforts by the newly established Algerian government partly explain the interest in supporting nationalist movements from Angola or Guinea Bissau, informal connections and encounters between Francophone intellectuals/activists and Lusophone anticolonial leaders allow to uncover lesser known solidarity entanglements. This paper traces some of these connections by drawing on private correspondence between members of the Comité de soutien à l’Angola et aux peuples des colonies portugaises and anticolonialists as well as published documents by individuals that acted as mediators of encounters and circulations between Europe and postcolonial north Africa. These accounts do not only enrich our approach to “subversive” mobilities and the practicalities of solidarity but also shed light on the tensions between different understandings of socialism and internationalism.
  • Immanuel R. Harisch
    Building Up Networks: The peculiar socialist mobilities of two Angolan trade union leaders during the 1960s and 1970s

    Building Up Networks: The peculiar socialist mobilities of two Angolan trade union leaders during the 1960s and 1970s

    In 1977, as a result of the purges which followed an attempted coup d'état, Angola's socialist ruling party MPLA appointed Pascal Luvualu as General Secretary of the central trade union federation UNTA. The "old campaigner" Luvualu had founded UNTA in Congolese (Kinshasa) exile in 1960 as the first Angolan anti-colonial trade union body since African union activity was ruthlessly repressed by the Portuguese in colonial Angola. UNTA positioned itself as an anti-colonial, antiimperialist organisation with close links to the Angolan Marxist national liberation movement MPLA. Soon after the founding of UNTA, Luvualu went on to study as one of two UNTA members at the East German trade union college Fritz Heckert in Leipzig and then Bernau, together with his fellow deputy secretary Bernard Dombelé and around 60 other African trade unionists from all over the continent. In my contribution I will highlight how the socialist educational mobility of UNTA’s leaders in East Germany enabled them to forge vital transnational networks at international trade union conferences in Beijing and Casablanca as well as personal ties and trust with functionaries of the East German central trade union federation FDGB. From the 1960s onwards the FDGB supported UNTA with scholarships, travel costs and material assistance e. g. for UNTA’s refugee relief service that was mostly channeled through the two “Bernau-alumni” Luvualu and Dombelé. This work also seeks to contribute to the discussion on "peculiar types of mobility" in its own right by arguing that the socialist mobilities of the two UNTA members were peculiarly impacted by the factor of coincidence, e. g. of unintended individual decisions that were made due to only cursory knowledge on the African scene. In other words, Luvualu and Dombelé received their scholarship at the trade union school in Leipzig/Bernau in the first place only because East German officials believed them to be “cadres” of the MPLA. The fact that Dombelé was even deported from the GDR after he had finished his studies adds to the tensions between claims of solidarity and exclusionary practices as exercised by socialist institutions.
  • Mariana Perry
    The influence of international solidarity in Chile’s politics during the 1970s. Exiles in western Europe

    The influence of international solidarity in Chile’s politics during the 1970s. Exiles in western Europe

    After the 1973 military coup in Chile, one of the first measures taken by the regime of Pinochet, in order to control the opposition, was to exile leaders of the main political parties that formed the Popular Unity Alliance headed by President Allende. The destination of the exiles varied greatly. Regardless of the context in which they arrived, a worldwide solidarity organization emerged almost instantly to condemn the regime and to keep the Chilean case at the top of the international agenda. Of particular importance was the solidarity organization that emerged in Western Europe in general and the one organized by the Socialist International in particular. By the time of the Chilean coup and the years that immediately followed, socialist and social democratic parties linked to the Socialist International, had reached power in Austria, the Netherlands, Great Britain and most of the Scandinavian countries, providing a strong and influential network of support for the Chilean refugees. This positive reception in Western Europe coincided with a very well organized Chilean community which managed to rebuild their party’s structure in exile. In parallel of this transnational activism, the Chilean left in exile started a profound process of political debate regarding the circumstances that lead to the Popular Unity defeat. A robust exchange of political and ideological writings circulated among the Chilean exiled trying to decipher the mistakes made and to elaborate on a strategy to defeat the Military Regime and to create a new political program for a democratic Chile. The main aim of this paper is to analyze how the international solidarity campaigns conducted by European socialist and social democrats, affected the political and intellectual processes experienced by the Chileans in western Europe, giving special focus to the process called ‘Renovation’ within the Chilean socialism.
  • Cyril Cordoba
    Mobility across the bamboo curtain: Political tourism in Red China (1964-1978)

    Mobility across the bamboo curtain: Political tourism in Red China (1964-1978)

    “It’s better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times”. This proverb, which became as a slogan for the Chinese propaganda, was one of the main arguments used by the Maoist groups that emerged in Western countries during the 1960s and the 1970s to attract people in their guided tours. Indeed, in order to reach a wide audience and gain supporters for their cause, these Marxist-Leninist parties used front organizations, that they called the “friendship associations with China”, to enjoy a quasi-monopole on Chinese visas and thus send hundreds of individuals to Beijing each year: Sinologists, workers, activists, intellectuals, businessman, artists, etc. Thanks to an analysis of the material produced by these travelers (notebooks, audio tapes, photographs, reports, amateur movies and so on), this communication will explore the intimate relationship of those who identified as “friends of China”, to present their total immersion into the world that had been built for them. These trips to the People’s Republic of China were greatly inspired from the model previously set by the Soviet Union and have often been described as political pilgrimages following strict rules of hospitality (with the so-called “Potemkin villages”). Our analysis will instead emphasize the role played by the foreign groups who decided to partner with the Chinese state to organize and supervise these journeys. By using exclusive archives from American, French, Belgian and Swiss friendship associations and the documents coming from state surveillance, we will show how specific processes of standardization were built through transnational networks in order to convey and perpetuate an orthodox discourse about the RPC, via preparatory meetings, supervised Q&A sessions and public talks.

Abstract

During the last years a growing literature has empirically enriched our understanding of socialism(s) and communism(s) in a global perspective, by hinting at the multiplications of these political projects as a result of transregional encounters of actors in the wake of decolonization and the Cold War. More specifically, East-West and East-South axes of such encounters have been highlighted. By focusing on socialist mobilities, this panel aims to further develop this agenda in two ways. Firstly, by investigating a triangular geography that connects Eastern Europe, the transatlantic North, and the Global South. Secondly, by integrating “socialist mobilities” into broader trends of mobility studies, thereby further differentiating concepts of “transregional mobilities” and their relation to processes of globalization. Mobility was inherent to the socialist project, aiming at the transformation of the global order after imperialism. The panel investigates transregional mobilities of socialist actors during the second half of the 20th century and aims at integrating them into the history of 20th globalization. At the center of the panel are mobile actors who were considered as agents and mediators in these circulations, imagined or created socialist projects as well as acted in and constructed new institutions in transregional settings. During the second half of the 20th century, these actors – activists, experts, students, intellectuals, party and trade union members, staff of international organizations – developed new practices of mobilities in a world shaped by decolonization as well as the Cold War and by the rise of the nation state, transnationalism, and globalization. As a result, they engaged with and produced differentiated geographies and spatial formats such as post-colonial nation states or transregional solidarity networks. The panel focusses on mobilities resulting from actors’ efforts to pursue emancipatory projects formulated in the language of communism, socialism and internationalism. This includes spatial and social mobilities, i.e. both transcending the borders of states, and world regions and those of social groups. The concrete shape socialist mobilities took was not only a result of actors’ voluntary decision to move, but of them reacting to political persecution, state control, war and violence, or economic and cultural marginalizations. While this is true also for other kinds of mobility, more peculiarly socialist mobilities were characterized by massive tensions: between internationalist ambitions and limited resources, between claims of solidarity and exclusionary practices, between universalist assertions and particular manifestations, between a cosmopolitan agenda and the imperial interest of the Soviet Union. The panel joins here scholarship, that has identified the tension between the internationalist and the territorialist orientation of international communism as the key dialectic of its history. These tensions have, however, frequently been interpreted as contradictions, often leading to perceptions of the communist world (particularly during the Cold War) as immobile – with the strong role of state actors controlling, limiting, managing movement – and the language of internationalism as mere propaganda. In contrast, this panel tests the hypothesis, that these tensions have resulted in peculiar types of mobility, which still await their closer investigation. Going beyond state socialism in Eastern Europe and with a focus on actors instead of regimes, the panel brings together scholarship on mobile socialist actors in Eastern and Western Europe, the transatlantic North, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The contributions investigate infrastructures, patterns and practices of circulation as well the structural prerequisites and the intentions of actors to move, as well as hindrances to their mobilities. The conveners ask for a double panel with six papers and two commentators. The remaining open slot would be filled until September with a contribution selected from an ongoing Call for Papers, in addition to the vacant chair position. The conveners are also open to suggestions from the SC, should there be related proposals submitted during the CfP for ENIUH VI. The panel is supported by the SFB 1199 at University of Leipzig and the LeibnizScience Campus “Eastern Europe – Global Area”.