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EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution


The changing landscape of the global political economy and foreign aid: has the Cold War ended? (Anthropology of International Governance Network)

Location M-648
Date and Start Time 02 August, 2014 at 09:00


Ela Drazkiewicz (NUI Maynooth) email
Patty Gray (Maynooth University) email
Alessandro Iandolo (London School of Economic and Political Science) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

The panel aims to counter the existing debates on 'new donors' which by ignoring the Cold War history of development are facilitating the reformulation of mainstream discourses of development. What are the chances for 'non-traditional' donors to include their perspectives in the global governance?

Long Abstract

This panel deals with the contemporary changing landscape of the global political economy and foreign aid, and explores the fuzzy boundaries between national and international governance and the tension in the ethical and practical motivations of global, national and local actors.

The existence and wide usage of categories such as 'traditional' vs. 'new' donors - coinciding not only with the distribution of power in the colonial era and Cold War divisions, but also with the existing world division - reveals the dominant position of Western actors and the ongoing naturalisation of their activities. By the persuasive naturalisation of their own 'traditional' presence in development, and by questioning the practices of 'emerging donors', these 'established' actors have set the tone for the existing debates about development. Even though the history of development is rooted in the rivalry between the First and the Second World, this past has largely been neglected. The dismissal of the past has strong political implications facilitating reformulation of mainstream development discourses and changes in the modes of global governance.

For that reasons, this panel has a twofold aim. First, we invite papers aiming to counter the existing debates ignoring the 50-year Cold War history of development, and investigating the past involvement of non-Western donors in international development. Secondly we are looking for presentations which though historically motivated, are asking the question about the contemporary possibilities for 'non-traditional' donors (including private agencies/foundations) for including their national and other perspectives in the current mainstream debates about development.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


The Soviet Union vs. Cadbury's: socialist trade with Ghana in theory and practice

Author: Alessandro Iandolo (London School of Economic and Political Science)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will analyse Soviet policy towards Ghana between 1957 and 1964, showing how the USSR competed with the Western private sector for the country's cocoa. Both socialist and capitalist trade proved to be detrimental to Ghana's ambitious of autonomous development.

Long Abstract

In 1957, Ghana became the first independent sub-Saharan African country. Kwame Krumah, Ghana's Prime Minister, had ambitious aims. He wanted the country to be not only politically, but also economically independent from Britain. The Soviet Union was ready to help. Nikita Khrushchev was convinced that socialism was a superior economic system compared to capitalism. To prove it, he was ready to flood Ghana with Soviet goods, Soviet technology, and Soviet advisors. Socialist trade was to play a key role. Ghana's main export commodity - cocoa beans - was to be exchanged with Soviet machinery in what was thought to be a mutually advantageous barter agreement. However, Ghana was the main supplier of cocoa beans to British chocolate manufacturers - an industry that employed 5,000 people in Birmingham alone. If Ghana began to exchange its cocoa with Soviet tractors, rather than selling it to British firms through a British marketing company, the consequences on the competitiveness of a then-thriving sector could be dire. British businesses responded by cajoling and threatening the Ghanaian leadership, by lobbying domestic policymakers to defend their interests, and by raising employment fears at home. The Cold War in Ghana was therefore a struggle between Soviet-sponsored state-led modernisation and the Western private sector. Going beyond traditional considerations of ideology and power politics, this paper shows the Cold War in the Third World as a competition between two different visions of economic relations, driven more by the local context and by vested interests than by international politics.

Colony, model, colony: Soviet Central Asia and Cold War development

Author: Artemy Kalinovsky (University of Amsterdam)  email

Short Abstract

This paper is an attempt to trace the idea of Central Asia as a model for the decolonizing world from its revival in the 1950s, when it became a crucial part of Moscow’s Third World strategy, to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Long Abstract

This paper is an attempt to trace the idea of Central Asia as a model for the decolonizing world from its revival in the 1950s, when it became a crucial part of Moscow's Third World strategy, to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. I am particularly interested in ways that the Soviet engagement with the Third World in this period affected Central Asia itself. Focusing primarily on Tajikistan and its relations with Afghanistan and India, I begin by looking at the way the Soviet engagement with the Third World changed the politics of modernization during the Khrushchev era, allowing Central Asian political elites to renegotiate their republics' economic and cultural role within the union. I then trace the idea of Central Asia as a model for developing countries. Briefly considered as an actual program that could be derived from a study of Soviet Central Asia's economic history, it quickly gave way to the use of Central Asia as an exhibition of Soviet achievement. Afghans and other Soviet allies were brought to witness modernity and cultural tradition existing side by side, and Central Asian specialists were sent abroad to provide technical aid and act as travelling exhibits themselves. Meanwhile, however, Soviet development failed to achieve its promise, creating a primarily European industrial elite surrounded by a native population engaged overwhelmingly in agriculture. In the late 1980s, some Tajik economists and other intellectuals began to see Central Asia as itself a colony rather than a model for others.

Making the news: images of Africa and Africans in East German newsreels

Author: Katrin Bahr (University of Massachusetts Amherst)  email

Short Abstract

Newsreels in the GDR were used to promote political activities in other socialist countries and to inform East German citizens about national and international activities. The paper will show how a monumental ignorance about African culture allowed racially superior attitudes to grow.

Long Abstract

Throughout the existence of the GDR (German Democratic Republic), newsreels—including Der Augenzeuge, a weekly newsreel of the Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA), Aktuelle-Kamera, a daily half-hour news program, and DDR-Magazin, a monthly documentary magazine produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—were used to promote the GDR's political activities in other socialist countries and to inform East German citizens about national and international activities. Predictably, a certain number of these newsreels focused on African topics.

The GDR did not consider itself an heir to Germany's colonial past, nor an exploitative imperialist power. On the contrary, it perceived itself as standing side by side in "solidarity" (Solidarität) with its "brother states" (Bruderstaaten) throughout the developing world. In an effort to understand the complex intertwining of these themes, this paper looks at representations of such solidarity with African countries, especially during the period that saw wars of liberation against colonial rulers post-1945.

I argue that East German newsreels were in fact used both to legitimize political and economic activities in Africa, and to gain support from East German citizens for foreign policy. Representations of Africa—marked as an underdeveloped continent—allowed the GDR to present itself as a helpful big brother, to counterbalance West German foreign policy, and to strengthen East German identity under the guise of solidarity within and outside of the GDR. Although the newsreels showed goodwill towards Africans, they also showed a monumental ignorance about African culture, which allowed racially superior attitudes to grow, despite the language of solidarity.

Polish aid to the decolonizing world during the Cold War: political machinery, or an avant-garde lifestyle for Polish intellectual elites?

Author: Ela Drazkiewicz (NUI Maynooth)  email

Short Abstract

This paper aims discuss the motivations and the world view of Polish development professionals who at the time of the Cold War were working at the sites of development projects funded by Polish government.

Long Abstract

The involvement of the Eastern European countries in international development at the time of the Cold War has so far been presented as a single-dimensional, predominantly political endeavor of the states subordinated to the USSR's foreign policy. It has produced an image of "Second World" aid to the "Third World" as technical and political machinery, while neglecting the role of particular individuals (diplomats, politicians, experts, academics, church leaders, etc.) and their personal worldviews and agendas in this process. This paper aims to counter this view and include in the debate the perspective of development professionals from Poland, who at the time of the Cold War were working at the sites of development projects funded by Polish government.

The song of the non-aligned world - remix 2014: rebuilding of the International Center for Public Enterprises in Developing Countries

Author: Sara Arko (Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana)  email

Short Abstract

The paper follows the rise, decline and recent rebuilding of one of the few formal development institutions of the Non-Aligned Movement, the International Center for Public Enterprises in Developing Countries (Slovenia), as a non-traditional alternative to international development cooperation.

Long Abstract

In 1992, Akhil Gupta analysed transnational identities starting off with the "song of the Non-Aligned world". Today, the melody may have remained the same, but the beat to this alternative international cooperation has most definitely changed. Based on ethnographic research (2010 -), the paper follows the rise, decline and rebuilding of one of the few formal development institutions of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the International Center for Public Enterprises in Developing Countries (ICPE), headquartered in Slovenia.

NAM was launched in 1961 in Belgrade as an alternative to the existing networks of the superpowers. ICPE was established in 1974 in the Yugoslav city of Ljubljana, working towards the New International Economic Order. Pejoratively known in Slovenia as "Zumba House" ever since its first "golden decade", ICPE serves as a small window offering a view on the wider issues of international cooperation within the NAM. After 1991, when the newly independent Slovenia turned its gaze towards the West, ICPE became an obscure remnant of the past and was renamed to International Center for Promotion of Enterprises in 1997 to better reflect the changed economic conditions. Only recently, ICPE again received the attention of the Slovenian public as an unnecessary expense of the impoverished state in economic crisis, while the State at the same time rediscovers the Center's potentials for reconnecting with "old friends" from the NAM (e.g. India).

The paper examines the contested meanings of ICPE and the perceived opportunities for Slovenian foreign affairs and development cooperation beyond the established "western" networks.

La Distinction Lusotropical: When Bourdieu meets Freyre

Author: Ana Ribeiro (Universitat Leipzig)  email

Short Abstract

Through Bourdieuian lenses, this paper explores how Brazil's Africa-related development discourse involving lusophone exceptionalism was shaped over time (i.e. by sociologist Freyre), given "symbolic capital" by governments, channeled into action and changed for different eras and priorities.

Long Abstract

Brazil is referred to today as an "emerging donor," but its involvement in African development dates back to the 1970's, as Brazil's national developmentalism called for capital expansion beyond its own "traditional" partners. This involvement has been wrapped in a narrative of exceptionalism of lusophone - Portuguese language and culture-related - leadership that has evolved as Brazil's own geopolitical ambitions have grown and the international climate changed. Using a Bourdieuian perspective, this paper will explore how such narrative was shaped especially through Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre, given "symbolic capital" by different presidential administrations and their respective diplomatic corps. In its first phase, which peaked in the 1950's, the discourse referred to the expansion of Brazilian and Portuguese capital collectively, disregarding the agency of the colonized. In its second phase, launched in the early 60's, it was modified to leave Portuguese leadership aside and frame an idea of Brazilian exceptionalism and fitness to lead the oppressed nascent African states out of their condition of underdevelopment and dependency. The third phase of the discourse, in effect now, sheds the idea of racial and social democracy in Brazilian society previously employed as exceptionalism towards the idea of a debt to be repaid to Africans for slavery and contributions to Brazilian society. However, previously promoted ideas of similarities - in culture, language, soil, climate and socioeconomic struggles - have been kept that supposedly set Brazil apart from other aid donors.

Celebrating diversity and promoting tolerance in Russia: foreign aid, racial harmony, and efforts to build a new international postsocialism

Author: Melissa Caldwell (University of California, Santa Cruz)  email

Short Abstract

Whereas Soviet projects promoted pan-socialist multiculturalism and tolerance, Russia now receives foreign aid to teach Russians about tolerance/diversity. This paper examines these shifting foreign aid relations and how Russia’s socialist alliances continue and are reworked in the post-Soviet era.

Long Abstract

Soviet efforts to build international socialism recognized and celebrated cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity across the socialist world. Through development projects at home and abroad, Soviet leaders and citizens cooperated with their counterparts in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to promote ideals of egalitarianism, tolerance, solidarity, and cooperation. In the post-Soviet period, however, ideals of tolerance and diversity have been overshadowed by accounts of harassment and physical violence against individuals who are "different," most notably persons of color. In Russia, these actions are most visibly directed against Central Asian, African, and Asian migrants, many of whom come from countries that were Russia's socialist allies. Victims and human rights activists interpret these acts as consequences of Russia's capitalist transition and have called for Russia to recommit to the ideals of "tolerance." This "recommitment" to tolerance attracts foreign aid and foreign aid workers who monitor race relations and "educate" Russian citizens in new projects of tolerance and racial harmony. These foreign aid workers include citizens from western countries and from countries that previously received foreign aid from Russia, effectively reconfiguring historical relationships of assistance between donor and recipient nations. This paper examines this shift in foreign aid dedicated to diversity and tolerance programs and how Russia has become simultaneously a provider and receiver of such assistance. A particular focus will be how this simultaneous position illuminates how Russia's Soviet-era socialist alliances both continue and are being reworked in the post-Soviet era, thereby revealing possibilities for a new international (post)socialism.

Past animosities and present skepticisms in Russia's current international development assistance program

Author: Patty Gray (Maynooth University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper seeks to link Russia’s Soviet-era aid with its current donor persona across the artificial gulf of the immediate post-Soviet era, exploring ways that Russia’s Cold War-era experience with foreign aid influences its post-Soviet international development assistance program.

Long Abstract

Russia's recent phase as a recipient of post-Cold-War aid has led to rapid (perhaps willful) amnesia by outside observers regarding its past involvement as a foreign aid donor. Although Russia has been actively developing its overseas aid program since the early 2000s, many remain skeptical, if not ignorant, of Russia's capacities as an aid donor, and Russia is often cast as a newly 'emerging' donor. On the other hand, a coherent vision of its overseas aid program has yet to become evident in Russia. To what extent does Russia's Cold War-era experience with foreign aid influence its post-Soviet international development assistance program? This paper seeks to link Russia's Soviet-era aid with its current donor persona across the artificial gulf of the immediate post-Soviet era.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.