Workshop 'Peripheral Liberalism. Market economists and the liberal script outside the West, 1970-2020'

Tobias Rupprecht's picture
Call for Papers
October 6, 2022 to October 7, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Economic History / Studies, Intellectual History, World History / Studies

CfP: Peripheral Liberalism. Market economists and the liberal script outside the West, 1970-2020


Workshop organised by the research group ‘Peripheral Liberalism’ (Dr Tobias Rupprecht; Alice Trinkle; Kevin Axe; Maximiliano Jara; George Payne) to be held in-person at the Berlin Cluster of Excellence ‘Contestations of the Liberal Script’.

Keynote: Prof Wang Hui, Tsinghua University

6-7 October 2022


Economic reform debates and the political impact of pro-market economists in countries outside the Cold War Western alliance are undergoing revision by scholars of political economy, global history, and neoliberalism. Most recent research now firmly places intellectual and economic changes within global shifts in economics and economic thought that began in the 1970s, thus moving away from a fixation on 1989 and the arrival of foreign advisors as external promoters of a liberal script created in the West. Forms of ‘peripheral liberalism’, a range of ideas on market- and individual rights-based transformation, emerged in most parts of the world and would – to varying degrees – have momentous effects on economic reforms and political change.

For our two-day workshop, to be held in Berlin in October 2022, we invite contributions that help us stake out the emerging research field of the global history of economic transformation since the 1970s. We welcome papers on the role of (neo-)liberal thought and self-professed liberal intellectual and political figures in countries that belonged to the second and third worlds during the Cold War. We are particularly interested in primary source-based contributions assessing cross-border interaction between economists, intellectuals, and politicians from different parts of the non-Western world.

Abstracts for papers and short CVs should reach the organisers by 30 June 2022.



SCRIPTS analyses the contemporary controversies about liberal order from a historical, global, and comparative perspective. It connects academic expertise in the social sciences and area studies, collaborates with research institutions in all world regions, and maintains cooperative ties with major political, cultural, and social institutions. Operating since 2019 and funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the SCRIPTS Cluster of Excellence unites eight major Berlin-based research institutions: Freie Universität Berlin, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), as well as the Hertie School, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), the Berlin branch of the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS), and the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO).



‘Peripheral Liberalism’ assesses the emergence of a liberal script in socialist countries and questions a Western-imposition narrative that permeates much of the literature on the ‘transition’ of Eastern Europe, and contemporary political commentary. We revisit the debates on economic and political reform in Soviet Russia, Soviet Estonia, Communist China, and post-socialist Chile from the 1970s, focussing on historiographical evidence produced by individual economists and social scientists. We assess how local varieties of neoliberalism emerged from the late 1970s, not as a passive import from the West, but in engagement with local intellectual traditions, domestic economic and political challenges, and interpretations of reforms abroad – including in the West, but more crucially in other countries of the socialist world. Our assumption is that a liberal script was laid out long before the arrival of Western advisors; it was only partially implemented around 1990, and while some of their ideas still informed economic and financial policy, the neoliberals themselves, in most cases, were soon politically sidelined.

Contact Info: 

Dr. Tobias Rupprecht, Freie Universität Berlin, Cluster of Excellence ‘Contestations of the Liberal Script’