CALL FOR PAPERS: Europe and the End of the Cold War 1985-1991, Paris, June 15-17, 2006

Apr 12, 2005

Organized by Frédéric Bozo (University of Nantes) and Marie-Pierre Rey (University of Paris-I Panthéon Sorbonne), organized in cooperation with the Cold War International History Project (Washington), the Cold War Studies Centre, LSE, (London); the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies, (Florence), and the Gorbachev Foundation (Moscow).

The end of the Cold War and, in particular, German unification and the demise of the Soviet Empire are among the best documented and the most thoroughly researched events in recent history. Only the endings of the two world wars have led to such intensive historical research almost immediately after the facts: starting in the mid 1990s, historians and political scientists have indeed embarked on a systematic effort to gain access to the relevant evidence and pursue far-reaching research programs with a view to understanding the processes that have made possible the peaceful termination of the East-West conflict.

Yet, whatever its impressive results both quantitatively and qualitatively, the effort to understand the end of the Cold War historically can be described, to this day, as partial. Most of the historical production so far has indeed focused on two or three of the key players at the expense of other, sometimes influential actors or processes. Thus the literature typically concentrates on the role of the two superpowers --the United States and the former USSR-- in the demise of the Cold War system, while also naturally recognizing the role of Germany --but only inasmuch as its own unification is concerned. The historiography of the end of the Cold War, in other words, remains overwhelmingly Soviet-American if not exclusively American in scope, methodology, documentation and, last but not least, interpretation.

Time has come to translate what has so far been an essentially bipolar effort to understand the end of the Cold War into a broader, more European-focused endeavor. By choosing to concentrate on "Europe" in its various dimensions (Western Europe, Eastern Europe as well as the pan-European dimension) we intend to bring to the forefront of historical research previously neglected actors or processes whose contributions to the end of the Cold War were, in our view, decisive:

-Key West European nations, including the FRG (whose role far exceeded that of achieving German unification and whose policies require analysis in all their various European dimensions), Britain and France (which have often been caricatured as having played a minimal if not a negative role in these events) as well as other countries;

-European integration --in all its aspects-- which arguably played a significant part in the second half of the 1980's by stimulating the Soviet Union's opening to the West as well as Eastern Europe's emancipation, making German unification acceptable to neighboring countries in 1989-1990 and influencing the reshaping of the European order in the early 1990's well beyond the borders of the then Twelve;

-Endemic evolutions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, which made the end of the Cold War possible in the first place and were arguably, to some extent, influenced by the dynamics of integration in the West and the attraction of the West European social-economic model, as well as those of the pan-European process;

-The pan-European process itself, the impact of which on the overall process of the end of the Cold War -what has been rightly named the "Helsinki effect" -- deserves to be closely examined, especially in its political and cultural dimensions.

Such an effort, in our view, is also made possible and desirable as a result of:

-the growing availability of new sources, including archives which are beginning to open up, and the need to stimulate efforts on the part of governments and archivists to further declassify and make relevant evidence available (the conference organizers indeed would encourage all would-be participants to explore the possibilities now opening up thanks to recent Freedom of Information legislation);

-the readiness on the part of former actors and witnesses to contribute to oral history and the need to develop programs akin to those already underway or completed in the Soviet Union, the United States or Germany.

The conference agenda will be chronologically and thematically arranged with a view to covering the main relevant periods (the end of the 80s, the pivotal years 1989-1990, and the early 1990s) as well as the main topics (policies and attitudes of key European players --including political debates and cultural trends-- , the role of European integration, the impact of the end of the Cold War on Western Europe's relations with, respectively, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the United States, German unification, the pan European process etc.)

Topics to be addressed: Papers in English are invited on the following topics, approached either broadly or through the perspective of key states or individuals:

1. Europe, perestroika and the new détente (ca.1985-1989)
-Soviet diplomacy, "new thinking" and relations with Western Europe
-Eastern Europe between perestroika and West European integration
-West European states and societies between integration, arms control and détente
-East-West relations in Europe including the roles of the US and the USSR

2. Europe and the process of German unification (ca. 1989-1990)
-West European states and societies and the process of German unification
-East European states and societies (including the USSR) and German unification
- German unification and the European construction
-German unification and the pan-European process

3. Europe, the end of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new European architecture (ca. 1990-1991)
-The end of the Soviet Union and its consequences
-The new European architecture.

The organizers would, of course, be happy to consider additional proposals which potential contributors believe would fit in the overall intellectual framework of the conference.

The conveners aim at a publication of the conference proceedings in an edited volume.

The deadline for proposals is September 15, 2005. Proposals should include a title, a one page outline and a one page CV of the author with a list of major books and articles. Following the acceptance of the proposals (before October 15), authors will receive editorial guidelines (e.g. format of the papers). In order for the papers to be available to conference participants beforehand, authors will be asked to submit their draft papers by June 1, 2006. In order for the publication to proceed swiftly, the deadline for the submission of final drafts will be September 15, 2006.

Proposals should be emailed or sent by regular mail to Prof. Marie-Pierre Rey: Marie-Pierre.Rey@univ-paris1.fr
Pr Marie-Pierre REY,
Université de Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne,
Centre de recherches en histoire des Slaves,
1 rue Victor Cousin,
75005 Paris,
France.

Participants will receive reimbursement for their transportation on the basis of economy fare as well as accommodation during their stay in Paris for up to three nights.

Upcoming Events

Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Charles Kraus // Program Assistant
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • Roy O. Kim // Program Assistant
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project