Overview

On the arrival of Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko (1909 - 1989) in New York, a group of women protest against the Soviet regime. A typical banner reads, 'Gromyko ! The Foxiest, Two-Faced Diplomat Just Arrived'. Gromyko is due to travel to San Francisco to attend the Japanese Peace Treaty conference.   (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

What was the Cold War? A simple definition might be: a 20th century international confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States, which spread from Europe to Asia, Africa, and Latin America, eventually dividing the world into two camps. The key players in this global conflict are generally identified as a number of high-ranking policymakers, including Harry S. Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin. Of course, we know this story. Such a common narrative, however, does not help us to understand the multifaceted nature of the conflict, nor does it help us to think about its meanings for our world today. A quarter century has passed since the so-called end of the Cold War. It is time to change our ways of thinking about the Cold War.

To this end, our workshop, which will be held at the National University of Singapore (NUS) on 27-28 May 2016, aims at exploring new ways of thinking about the Cold War. We have invited contributions that will challenge the standard narrative of the Cold War by problematizing the imagined and constructed nature of the conflict. Some key questions we are going to explore are: How did various local situations contribute to the making and maintenance of the Cold War? Why did millions of people worldwide believe in the “reality” of the global Cold War? In what way did local people utilize, or even take advantage of Cold War narratives? Finally, what was the Cold War and how can we reconsider and reconceptualize it?

In short, what we will attempt to do is to problematize Cold War imaginings, shedding light on diverse social conflicts, culture wars, and historical struggles at home that were often concealed beneath the mantle of the global Cold War. In doing so, we hope to shed light on locally specific realities and everyday politics of “Cold War” confrontations, fostering discussions that will question the standard historical narrative that prioritizes the US-USSR conflict as the most important current in the history of the second half of the twentieth century. General themes for the workshop include:

  • Ordinary people’s “Cold War”: Politics of everyday life and everyday conflicts in the name of global confrontation.
  • Localized “Cold War”: Issues of nation building, social wars, and ethnic conflicts.
  • Historical continuities and local realities: Many struggles in Latin America.
  • Decolonization and domestic politics in Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • Cold War popular cultures: Similarity, simultaneity, and local translation.
  • Reconceptualizing the Cold War: Issues concerning nature, agency, periodization, and implications.

Through this workshop, we hope to develop scholarly dialogues on current and future studies of the Cold War. We plan to compile an anthology based on selected workshop presentations.

The workshop is open to public, but registration is required in advance. For further information, please contact the organizer, MASUDA Hajimu via contact form

Date

27-28 May 2016

Location

National University of Singapore, Singapore

Presenters (Alphabetical)

  • Gary Baines (Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa)
  • Chen Song-Chuan (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
  • Chien-Wen Kung (Columbia University, New York, NY, US)
  • Poppy Cullen (Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK)
  • Edgar Elbakyan (Yerevan State University, Yerevan, Armenia)
  • Sinae Hyun (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
  • Hyung-Wook Kim (UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, US)
  • S.R. Joey Long (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
  • Magdalena López (University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Masuda Hajimu (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
  • David Mills (Minnesota West Community College, Worthington, MN, US)
  • Sidnei J. Munhoz (Universidade Estadual de Maringá, Maringá, Brazil)
  • John Munro (St. Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada)
  • Vanni Pettinà (El Colegio de México, Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Fernando Purcell (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile)
  • Victoria Vasilenko (Belgorod National Research University, Belgorod, Russia)
  • Dean Vuletic (University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria)
  • Xiaojue Wang (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, US)
  • Colleen Wood (University of Maryland, College Park, MD, US)
  • Xu Lanjun (National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Discussants (Alphabetical)

  • David Engerman (Brandies University, Waltham, MA, US)
  • Heonik Kwon (University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)
  • Petrus Liu (Yale-NUS College, Singapore)
  • Alan L. McPherson (University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, US)
  • Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu (Rice University, Houston, TX, US)
  • Paul Steege (Villanova University, Villanova, PA, US)

Organizer

Masuda Hajimu (National University of Singapore, Singapore)