Neutrality, advocacy and dialogue – understanding Cold War Europe
Is the Cold War back? Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a rupture in history and possibly the end of an era. Now it seems to be a time when the East-West polarities are given a new actuality, when arms race is on the way and when the spectre of a nuclear catastrophe once again haunts global society.
Research into the history of the period traditionally labelled the Cold War (1947-1991) has seen some significant developments in recent years. Scholars have called the impenetrability of the Iron Curtain in question and increasingly turned from the world of ‘high politics’ to the mundane world of social exchange and civil society activism.
During this one-day conference we will further explore the role of humanitarian and faith-based organisations in Cold War Europe. The period of détente (1963-1980) witnessed the emergence of new collaborative modes and models, trying to bridge the East-West divide, spearheaded by civil society organisations of various kinds – humanitarian agencies, churches and faith-based organisations, informal research networks and groups of human rights activists. We seek to further explore the operational patterns and mental maps of these agencies. We are informed by a fundamental curiosity as to the ways in which they continue to matter in the post-Cold War era.
We follow with interest and scholarly attention how these models of encounter and communication from the détente era are repeatedly referred to in the current discussions surrounding the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Against this background of the current use of the history of the Cold War, we want to take a new, fresh and at the same time historically critical look at the détente phase and its faith-based actors and activities.
Keynote lectures will be given by Prof. Massimo Faggioli (Villanova University, USA) and Prof. Cyril Hovorun (University College, Stockholm).
Talks of twenty minutes are warmly invited on any aspect of this overall theme. Contributors may wish to consider such issues as:
Religion as a motivational force
Neutrality and dialogue as theory and practice
Measures of outreach and material aid
Abstracts of papers should be sent to both Prof. Katharina Kunter (Katharina [dot] Kunter [at] helsinki [dot] fi) and to Prof. Erik Sidenvall (Erik [dot] Sidenvall [at] ctr [dot] lu [dot] se) consisting of max. 300 words (including full name and affiliation) no later than 31 March.