Giulia Quaggio 's picture
Call for Papers
May 19, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Diplomacy and International Relations, European History / Studies, Peace History / Studies, Spanish and Portuguese History / Studies


The latest historiography of the Cold War has moved beyond a conventional view of the conflict. Earlier readings interpreted the conflict as a sum of strictly bipolar events that ended up assessing international relations by exclusively examining force and realpolitik (Romero 2014). By contrast, new studies stress the as yet unexplored impact of 'small' European powers on the sidelines of the bipolar conflict: going beyond their supposed passivity and scrutinising their ways of manoeuvring from the margins, their everyday experience of the conflict, or reflecting, from a social and cultural perspective, on the narratives and cultural traditions that shaped their visions and experiences of the conflict through non-state and non-hegemonic actors (Moro 2012, Ziemann 2009). The Cold War is not simply an 'imaginary war' between East and West, the US against the Soviet Union; it is also a story of 'small' and supposedly 'less influential' powers versus 'big' countries (Crump and Erlandsson 2020). Small players may have given more weight to neutrality, but at the same time, paradoxically, they were also inclined to rely on the superpowers. From this perspective, the case of Spain is particularly interesting, as it joined the Western bloc as early as the 1950s, albeit without becoming part of the Atlantic Alliance, thereby keeping alive a long tradition of neutrality. 

There is a growing amount of international literature on the subject of 'retroactive debipolarisation' of the Cold War (Hershberg 2000), and in the light of this, the proposed workshop aims to examine the Spanish experience of entering and remaining in the Western bloc from the margins of Europe during the détente crisis of the late 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. This period of global fracturing (Rodgers 2011) is relevant to Spain because it coincided with the democratisation of its foreign and security policy (1977-1986) and its return to the European Communities (1986). Indeed, the early 1980s saw the breaking of the unofficial pact of silence regarding Spain's position vis-à-vis the Atlantic Alliance that had prevailed during the first stage of transition. It was at this time that the debate on the country's approach to international affairs first began to occupy an important place in public debate, at the same time polarising public opinion. While the country's elites wanted to join the EEC, the relationship with the two superpowers remained rather ambiguous and complex.

Analysis of Spain’s membership of NATO and its referendum on remaining within the multilateral organization versus European integration represents a fascinating tool for examining  the encounter of socio-cultural top-down and bottom-up dynamics during  the country's international transition (1975-1986), the ways in which democracy was consolidated, the dissemination and impact of ideas and icons regarding  the bipolar conflict on the country's political cultures, and its conceptualisations of peace and neutrality in the aftermath of  one of Europe’s most enduring dictatorships.


On the basis of those considerations, a call for papers is open for a one-day workshop in which researchers working with archival materials on one or more of the following themes may present their paper:


  1. The narratives and opinions of ordinary Spaniards and mass media on NATO, their idea of neutrality and their daily experience of US military bases on Spanish soil with regard to the perception of the supposed Soviet danger.

  2. The relationship and overlap between NATO and EEC membership according to the perspective of diplomatic elites and ordinary citizens.

  3. The entanglements between the democratisation of domestic, foreign and security policy and the country's official entry into the Western bloc.

  4. The cultural impact of the Second Cold War on Spain and the fear of a new world conflict through mass and popular culture.

  5. The anti-NATO and peace movements in Spain and their relationship with other European movements against Euromissiles, the Freeze Movement in the United States, anti-war movements in Latin America and anti-nuclear or non-aligned peace activists in the Soviet bloc.

  6. Other countries' opinions and readings on Spain's entry into NATO.


Abstracts of papers of no more than 500 words may be submitted in English, French or Spanish by 20th December, together with a brief biographical note, to:


Giulia Quaggio giulquag@ucm.es or Sergio Molina García sermolin@ucm.es


This workshop is part of the Ramón y Cajal Programme INV. RA.10.2025.24642 and the project “The contours of Europeanisation in comparative perspective" (HAR2017-84957-P) (PID2020-113623GB-I00).

Contact Info: 

Faculty of Geography and History

Complutense University of Madrid (UCM)

Giulia Quaggio and Sergio Molina