Competing Socialisms: The Sino-Soviet Rivalry in Africa during the Cold War

Competing Socialisms: The Sino-Soviet Rivalry in Africa during the Cold War

Kirsten Bönker, Köln / Bielefeld; Thoralf Klein, Loughborough (Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung, Universität Bielefeld)
Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung, Universität Bielefeld
Vom - Bis
17.05.2021 - 18.05.2021
Manuela Lenzen; Universität Bielefeld

Video conference convend by Kirsten Bönker (Köln / Bielefeld) and Thoralf Klein (Loughborough)

Competing Socialisms: The Sino-Soviet Rivalry in Africa during the Cold War

The participants of the workshop consider the Cold War as a multilateral conflict that created specific global connections'. We seek to realign the interdisciplinary analysis of its 'glocal' interdependencies. We will do this by raising essentially new questions on the social, economic, cultural, and political dimensions of the as yet barely researched Sino-Soviet rivalry for the African continent. First, our aim is to initiate the necessary international collaboration between scholars working in the hitherto poorly networked fields of African, Chinese and Soviet history. These speakers will explore topics at the intersection of different sets of expertise, applying a transnational and multi-perspective approach. Second, these transnational historical approaches will be supplemented and enriched by scholars from political science, linguistics, literary studies and economics. The analysis of historical phenomena will thus be embedded in an interdisciplinary discussion to shed new light on the multilateral interdependencies on the basis of three broader fields, such as (1) economic aid and development, (2) the export of educational models, the educational migration to the USSR and China and back, foreign language policies, as well as (3) the imagination and emotionalization of the 'Other'.



13:00 – 13:20 Welcome address by Marc Schalenberg (ZiF) and the convenors, Kirsten Bönker and Thoralf Klein

1a. Political, Military and Economic Strategies, part I
Chair: Thoralf Klein (Loughborough)

13:30 – 14:15 Jodie Yuzhou Sun (Shanghai): Chinese Support of Rebel Movements in the Congo Crisis (1963-65)
Commentary: Andreas Hilger (Moscow)

14:15 – 14:45 Coffee break on

14:45 – 15:30 Jeremy Friedman (Harvard): The Economic Battle for Supremacy: The Sino-Soviet Competition for Africa in a Global Perspective

Commentary: Stephan Merl (Bielefeld)

15:30 – 15:45 Coffee break

1b. Political, Military and Economic Strategies, part II
Chair: Gesine Drews-Sylla (Würzburg)

15:45 – 16:30 Kirsten Bönker (Köln / Bielefeld): Representing Soviet Economic Aid Strategies or: Framing the Soviet Imagination of Being a World Power

Commentary: Svetlana Boltovska (Berlin)

16:30 – 16:45 Coffee break

16:45 – 18.00 Meet and Greet on


2. The Imagination and Emotionalization of the ‘Other’
Chair: Rachel G. Hoffman (Cambridge)

10:00 – 10:45 Gesine Drews-Sylla (Würzburg): Soviet (post-)colonial imaginations of Africa

Commentary: Kirsten Bönker (Köln / Bielefeld)

10:45 – 11:00 Coffee break

11:00 – 11:45 Thoralf Klein (Loughborough): Fighting Imperialism – Forging Solidarity: Africa in PRC Propaganda, 1950s to 1970s

Commentary: Stephen Smith (Oxford)

11:45 – 13:00 Lunch break: optional meet on

3a. Between Export and Migration. Education, Knowledge Exchange and Foreign Language Policies, part I
Chair: Kirsten Bönker (Köln / Bielefeld)

13:00 – 13:45 Viktor M. Shaklein (Moscow): Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War: Russian as a Foreign Language

Commentary: Gesine Drews-Sylla (Würzburg)

13:45 – 14:00 Coffee break

14:00 – 14:45 Andrea Kifyasi (Dar es Salaam / Basel): Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO) and the Sino-Soviet Conflict, 1957-1967

Commentary: Poppy Cullen (Loughborough)

14:45 – 15:15 Coffee break: optional meet on

3b. Between Export and Migration. Education, Knowledge Exchange and Foreign Language Policies, part II
Chair: Stephan Merl (Bielefeld)

15:15 – 16:00 Svetlana Boltovska (Berlin): Soviet Educational Aid as State Project: Intention and Realisation, 1960-1991

Commentary: Tobias Rupprecht (Berlin)

16:00 – 16:15 Coffee break

16:15 – 17:00 Bahru Zewde (Addis Ababa): The Ethiopian Student Movement and the Left in the Context of the Sino-Soviet Rivalry

Commentary: Felix Brahm (GHI London)

17:15 – 17:30 Coffee break

17:30 – 18:00 Concluding Session: Results, Interdisciplinary Research Perspective, Publication Plans


Trixi Valentin
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