Ruptures, Consolidations, Continuities: Reconsidering Global Economic Prosesses after 1945

Ruptures, Consolidations, Continuities: Reconsidering Global Economic Prosesses after 1945

Center for Global Studies, University of Bern; Robert Heinze (University of Bern); Patrick Neveling (Utrecht University)
Universität Bern, UniS, Schanzeneckstrasse 1
Vom - Bis
28.06.2016 - 30.06.2016
Robert Heinze, Patrick Neveling

This interdisciplinary, international conference will advance the debate about the periodisation of global economic processes after 1945. For this, we will bring together researchers from the social sciences and the humanities whose recent work goes beyond the predominant notion of a radical, world-historical rupture driven by crises in industrially advanced nations in the 1970s. Instead, contributors to this conference highlight the analytical gains from research and theories with emphasis on historical trajectories in the Global South, on a broader period in world history, and on analytical models of change that consider radical rupture as much as continuities and consolidations.

Such a debate is badly needed because mainstream research in the social sciences and humanities has, for more than a decade, followed the assumption of a radical shift from Keynesianism and Fordism to neoliberalism and post-Fordism in the 1970s. In history, several widely received and debated recent publications, such as Lutz Raphael and Anselm Doering-Manteuffel's "Nach dem Boom", Daniel Rodgers’ "Age of Fracture" and Morten Reitmayers and Thomas Schlemmer’s "Die Anfänge der Gegenwart" established that notion, building largely on empirical research in industrially advanced countries. Likewise, for social anthropology, sociology, and human geography influential monographs such as David Harvey’s “The Condition of Postmodernity” have established a narrative that posits radical ruptures as the world-shaping experience of the 1970s, which scholars across these disciplines have followed often unequivocally.

Increasingly, the supposed watershed-like character of events and the associated notions of systemic rupture are questioned, particularly regarding the singularity of the post-1970s experience in the global economy. This concerns the two oil crises of the 1970s and the end of the Bretton Woods System of fixed currency exchange rates as well as foundational concepts in the social sciences and humanities such as that of a flexibilisation of labour and employment and the rise of a neoliberal geography of capitalism shaped by high capital mobility.

Importantly, new studies draw on global perspectives and reveal that the notion of a 1970s rupture is only partially sustainable. While it is viable for the analysis of particular regions in the industrial heartlands of advanced capitalist nations such as the US, West Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, it is less easily verified for the historical trajectories of developing nations.

Further, social anthropologists, historians and sociologists have begun to question a radical difference that has for long been posited as a defining feature of the capitalist and the socialist bloc economies, and instead look for the origins of neoliberal policies in socialist states since the 1950s. New studies reveal that there were indeed extended debates and collaborations between economists from both sides and historical research shows that the Soviet Union was an active and powerful agent in global (capitalist) trading, for example during the world food crisis in the early 1970s.

The conference therefore focuses on the continuities and interdependencies between different patterns of economic regulation, asking which shades of Fordism, Keynesianism, Neoliberalism, and so forth have emerged since 1945 and in what ways these have connected societies and economies worldwide. We intend to initiate a debate among scholars from different fields on similarities and differences among and across nations in the Global South and the North and how these continued, consolidated, and/or changed over the past seven decades.


Tuesday, June 28th

13 Uhr: Registration

13:30 – 14:15 Welcome (Britta Sweers, Director CGS),
Conference Introduction: Heinze/Neveling

Session I

Chair: Luisa Piart (Bern)

14:30 – 15:20 Jennifer Lynn Bair (Boulder, Col.): Whose Right to Develop? The NIEO, the United Nations and the Emergence of the Human Right to Development

15:20 – 16:10 Alina Cucu (Berlin): Fracture and Endurance in the Temporal and Territorial Logics of Socialist Industrialization

16:10-16:30 Coffee Break

16:30-17:20 Patrick Neveling (Utrecht): Relocating Capitalism, Consolidating Neoliberalism: The Global Spread of Export Processing Zones and Special Economic Zones since 1947

17:20-18:20 Roundtable: Jennifer Bair, Alina Cucu, Patrick Neveling

19:30 Conference Dinner

Wednesday, June 29th

Session II

Chair: Benjamin Brühwiler (Amsterdam)

09:30 – 10:20 Gisela Hürlimann (Zurich): No Moral Issue Whatsoever? The Global Economy and the Entangled Swiss Worlds of Taxation, 1950s Onwards

10:20 – 11:10 Kean Fan Lim (Nottingham): On the Geographical-Historical Conditions of RMB Internationalization

11:10-11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 12:20 Roundtable: Gisela Huerlimann, Kean Fan Lim

12:20-13:40 Lunch

Session III

Chair: Jonas Flury (Bern)

13:40 – 14:30 Leon Fink (Chicago): Neoliberalism Before Its Time? Labor and the Free Trade Ideal in the Era of the ‘Great Compression’, 1945-1972

14:30 – 15:20 Robert Heinze (Bern): "Plus ça reste, plus ça change": Infrastructure and the periodisation of African economic history

15:20 – 15:50 Coffee Break

15:50 – 16:40 George Baca (Busan): Keynesianism’s Imperialist Underbelly: Witch-Hunts and Miracles in South Korea

16:40-17:40 Roundtable: Leon Fink, Robert Heinze, George Baca

19:00 Dinner

Thursday, June 30th

Session IV

Chair: Stella Krepp (Bern)

09:00 – 09:50 Catherine Schenk (Glasgow): Reinventing the International Monetary and Financial System in the 1970s: Continuities and Complexities

09:50 – 10:40 Rüdiger Graf, (Potsdam): A Turning Point in Energy History and International Relations? Reviewing the First Oil Crises 1973/74

10:40-11:10 Coffee Break

11:10 – 12:00 Christian Gerlach (Bern): The Global Grain Economy in the 1970s: Changes and Continuities

12:00-13:00 Roundtable: Catherine Schenk, Rüdiger Graf, Christian Gerlach

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch

Session V

Chair: Magaly Tournay (Zürich)

14:30 – 15:20 Mallika Shakya (New Delhi): Different Ruptures – Trade Union Movements in the Global South

15:20 – 16:10 Jefferson Cowie (Nashville): Global Economics, Local Identities: The U.S. Political Backlash from Truman to Trump

16:10 – 16:30 Coffee Break

16:30 – 17:20 Roundtable: Jefferson Cowie, Mallika Shakya

17:20 – 18:10 Final Discussion

19:30 Dinner


Robert Heinze

Historisches Institut, Universität Bern, Länggasstr. 49, 3000 Bern 9

+41 31 631 50 87
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