Call for Papers: The Black Sea in the Socialist World

Johanna Conterio's picture

The Black Sea in the Socialist World

Birkbeck College, University of London
February 6-7, 2015

Sponsored by the Society for the Social History of Medicine and the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies

Call for Papers

In May 1962, shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis, Soviet premiere Nikita Khrushchev toured Bulgaria. Under banners declaring “Forward, to Communism!” at a mass meeting in Varna, a Bulgarian health resort, Khrushchev lauded the Bulgarian people for the way in which they had developed the Black Sea coastline. Model health resorts like Varna, which drew visitors from all over the world, were the pride of the Bulgarian people, he claimed. These resorts demonstrated the commitment of the socialist states to the health and welfare of the people. He contrasted the health resorts on the socialist side of the Black Sea to the NATO missile build-up across the sea in Turkey. The health resorts of the Black Sea demonstrated the peace-loving nature of the socialist states to the world. “The Black Sea should be a sea of peace and the friendship of the peoples,” he argued.

While interest in the place of the Black Sea in the history of tourism, public health and architecture has grown rapidly in recent years, leading to ground-breaking studies, these works have treated each topic and national context in isolation. Works on Cold War diplomacy, too, have not taken into full consideration the position of the Black Sea as a site of cultural and political diplomacy in the socialist world. This workshop seeks to bring together historians studying the Black Sea or whose work involves the Black Sea from a variety of perspectives and both historians of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. The objective of the workshop is to develop the idea of the Black Sea littoral as an international meeting place of the socialist world.

As Khrushchev’s words suggested, the idea of the socialist Black Sea was closely linked to ideas of health and welfare during times of peace. The Black Sea littoral became a favoured health retreat of the political elite and soon became a setting for high politics and diplomatic negotiations. With the Yalta conference (February 4-11, 1945), the place of the Black Sea as a site of East-West diplomacy was formalized. But the Black Sea also became a place of less formal international exchange. From international children’s camps to delegation visits to sanatoriums serving an international clientele, at the Black Sea people from the socialist world introduced visitors from all over the world to the socialist way of life, in a Cold War contest fought over standards of living.

Participants are sought to present papers which may but will not necessarily fall into the following themes: The divided sea in the Cold War; the political context of Soviet-Turkish, East-West and socialist relations; ideas of Europe; international law; mobility, migration and tourism; commodities; socialist design and urban planning; environmental health; cultural and social history of medicine and health; international congresses and festivals, and environmental history. Papers relating to all countries of the Eastern Bloc and the USSR, and which emphasize transnational and international components, are welcome.

Please send paper titles and abstracts (around 300 words) by November 15, 2014 to j.conterio@bbk.ac.uk. Workshop papers will be pre-circulated and are due January 15, 2015. Student and early-career travel bursaries are available to attendees who are members of the Society for the Social History of Medicine.

Contact Details
Dr Johanna Conterio, conference convener
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Birkbeck College, University of London
Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
26-28 Russell Square
London, United Kingdom, WC1B 5DQ
j.conterio@bbk.ac.uk

http://www.bbk.ac.uk/reluctantinternationalists

Categories: Call for Papers
Keywords: Black Sea