Relations, Transfers and Exchanges between Africa and East Germany during the Cold War

Relations, Transfers and Exchanges between Africa and East Germany during the Cold War

Immanuel R. Harisch (University of Vienna); Anne Dietrich (University of Leipzig); Marcia C. Schenck (Freie Universität Berlin); Eric Burton (University of Exeter)
Vom - Bis
25.01.2019 -
Burton, Eric

Historical Context:
The last few decades have witnessed a renewed interest in South-East relations of various kinds. Scholars have sought to trace the trans-continental nature of encounters between African and Eastern European states in an era of intense system competition and high hopes for development. Thinking about these trans- and intercontinental entanglements within a global history framework, this edited volume seeks to contribute to the discussions about the nature of global socialism by highlighting connections between various African nations and East Germany during the Cold War. East German institutions such as the trade union federation, ministries, the solidarity committeee, and friendship brigades sought to strengthen relations with the emerging African countries by sending lecturers, experts, political and economic advisers, sports coaches, and development workers abroad. From the late 1950s onwards—at a time when East Germany still had to fight for its international recognition— the majority of African countries entered the international stage as politically independent nations. The newly established governments requested scholarships and material aid for their massive task of expanding the postcolonial economy and addressing labor shortages in the bureaucracy, business, health and educational sectors.
At the same time, African liberation movements that fought white minority regimes in Southern Africa forged relations with East Germany and partly relied on its material support and military training. When self-proclaimed Marxist regimes came into power in Ethiopia and in the ex-colonies of Portugal in the mid-1970s, the relations between Africa and East Germany intensified in a number of ways: (barter) trade agreements multiplied, as did plans over agricultural production and industrial projects in African countries. Africa took center stage in the world revolution towards socialism, as the Soviet Union and Cuba stepped up their personal, material, and ideological engagement on the African continent, including troops and military advisers. In the 1980s, economic crisis dominated on many fronts. International financial actors by and by captured African governments’ material and monetary transfers to the socialist world system which subsequently gradually ceased—as did the socialist bloc itself shortly thereafteer.

Scope of the edited volume:
Our aim as editors is to compile an open-access edited volume that shows the manifold and reciprocal relations and their legacies between African and East German actors like governments, institutions, contract workers, students, traders, trade unionists, freedom fighters, and many more. We especially welcome contributions that emphasize African influences on East German institutions, governments, ideology, economy, and the host society at large. Furthermore, we are interested in studies that engage the East German sojourns in various African nations. While our focus remains on African and East German relations, we also welcome contributions that discuss African relations with other socialist countries by way of comparison.
Recognizing the dominance of English in global academic production, we offeer a platform in this edited volume for contributions in languages beyond English, including, but not limited to Kiswahili, Portuguese, French or German. If you wish to submit in a language that is not listed, please contact the editors beforehand.

We welcome contributions that speak to the following five areas:
1. A focus on (im)mobilities in these South-East relations that on the one hand saw a massive extension of new channels of mobility in the context of development and decolonization but on the other hand were subjected to specific regimes of mobilities as of who and what was allowed to move is of interest. Many of these regimes were only in operation for a certain period of time but their legacies live on. We welcome contributions also on individual or public commemorations of South-East links in present day Africa.
2. Discussions on (African) agency and its historicity embedded into wider structural contexts prove to be particularly fruitful. Therefore, we appreciate contributions that highlight personal trajectories in the light of prevailing relations of class, race, gender and inequality in general.
3. Another way of inquiring South-East encounters is by delving into the imaginaries that informed the journeys on both sides, the dreams, emotions, goals, and ideological convictions that men and women of African, European and Afro-European descent held. This entails also the powerful legacies in both a number of African countries and Germany until the present day.
4. Overall, contributions may draw on and engage in interweaving all existing aspects of African-East German relations from the economic, ideological and political to the cultural, military, sports and diplomatic perspectives.
5. We particularly invite contributions based on primary material such as archival documents, oral history interviews, newspapers, songs, comics, and many more. While the overall conception of the edited volume adheres to scientific work methods, we also welcome contributions that aim to expand this mode of presentation by graphic or literary accounts that address aspects of these East-South exchanges. We also welcome discussions on methodology and sources, such as reflecting on a "Black East" or bringing to the fore new types of primary material like ego documents and photographs.

Submission details:
We are a team of early-career researchers and with this call for papers mainly want to address other early-career scholars that situate their research in a broader perspective of global encounters. We especially encourage scholars from African, Asian and Latin American countries who conduct research on these South-East relations to submit their proposals.
To submit your proposal, please send your proposed paper title, an abstract of 300 to 500 words and a
short biography to until 25th of January 2019. We will get back to
you by the end of February 2019.



Eric Burton

University of Exeter

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Englisch, Deutsch
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