CFP: Relations, Transfers and Exchanges between Africa and East Germany during the Cold War (Deadline 25 January 2019)

Immanuel R. Harisch's picture

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

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.

Immanuel R. Harisch (University of Vienna)
Anne Dietrich (University of Leipzig)
Marcia C. Schenck (Freie Universität Berlin)
Eric Burton (University of Exeter)