CFP: Sites of Contest: Cold War Cultural Diplomacy and the Global South

CFP: Sites of Contest: Cold War Cultural Diplomacy and the Global South

by Bridget Walsh
Culture has served as a “weapon of the struggle” during the Cold War. It played a central role in leftist literary circles, socialist realist poetry and muralism, as well as in the CIA-backed Congress for Cultural Freedom, whose artist groups embraced Abstract Expressionism and modernist poetry. Scholars agree that the superpowers sought to make culture work for their political interests. Yet until recently, much of the researchers’ attention has focused on high-profile cases such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and generally on Northern (US, Western European and Soviet) variants of the communism versus capitalism debate. This volume places the Global South in the foreground, illuminating sites where the Cold War was decidedly “hot.” In doing so, it aims to transform the field of cultural Cold War studies. In addition to forging new social and political relationships, the cultural Cold War shaped new canons in the so-called “Third World” and non-aligned nations, with local and global ramifications.

Drawing from performance studies, literary scholarship, and cultural studies, we conceive of “sites” on a number of levels. First, cultural sites, such as conferences, film and theatre festivals, prize ceremonies, traveling plays, concerts, book fairs, biennials and other such gatherings hosted debates about the intersections of aesthetics and politics. Second, Cold War ideologies linked these cultural sites to the more conventional material sites where Cold War history unfolded, such as urban or rural settings, military training fields or prison cells, school gymnasiums, lecture halls and courtrooms. Finally, we are interested in conceptual sites encompassing media like fictional genres, life-writing forms such as the testimonio, radio plays, letters, small journals, and ephemera. Political ideas are disseminated and circulate in diverse ways, through all of these sites.

We invite contributions that address any of these sites of contestation. Papers should have a primary focus on spaces, performances, or forms associated with the Global South. Questions and topics of particular interest include:
How do authoritarian projects (ie, Cold War dictatorships) get written and performed for their subjects?
What new or revisionist histories of propaganda emerge?
What are the sites and forms of resistance to Cold War imperialism? What solidarities have formed across the Global South, and what kinds of collaboration have been established with the superpowers?
How have marginal or lesser-known genres and forms been employed for political ends (prison writing and memoir, human rights reports, ephemera, radio plays, the manifesto, etc)? What new approaches to established genres of poetry, drama, and the novel arise out of sites in the Global South?
What new sites and topics of debates within literary and cultural theory has the Cold War produced?
What are the most useful approaches to tracking the movement of cultural actors and objects across contexts? How do we study the production and reception genealogies of texts or performances as they move “out of place” (from South to North, North to South or between parts of the Global South). Where do new ideas enter these trajectories? How might they change, given distinct contexts of reception?
New periodizations of Cold War ideologies, incorporating present ideological and material conflicts into global Cold War history, with special attention to cultural production..
New ways of analyzing Cold War intellectual and aesthetic gatherings and convergences.

This volume is edited by:
Kerry Bystrom, Bard College Berlin
Monica Popescu, McGill University
Katherine Zien, McGill University

Abstracts of 300 words should be submitted by August 15, 2018 to:

Contributors will be notified of preliminary acceptance of their abstracts by September 15, 2018. Full essays will be due June 1st, 2019.