ASEEES 2019 Panel - Sino-East European Relations during the Cold War and the Non-Alignment Movement
The Cold War is often historicized as a struggle between two opposing ideological camps with the United States and Russia at the helm, vying for political and economic control of Eurasia. Such historiography relies on a binary that is used to divide the world geo-politically, economically, and culturally, and ignores the intertwined histories of international socialism, personality cults, and local solidarity campaigns in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Studies have focused on the distribution of Soviet influence over Central and Eastern Europe, but there are less well documented histories of the formal and informal circulation of ideas, people, and images from China into and about Eastern Europe through the communist/socialist and non-aligned networks. For instance, the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) was inaugurated at the Belgrade summit in 1961, and its aim was to construct world relations that departed from the US and Russian influence, where the primary animating impulses were anti-imperialist, anticolonial, and antiracist. NAM presented another perspective that disrupted the binary of the Cold War, where non-alignment was non-belief; or, to put it another way, non-alignment was a belief that challenged, transgressed, and inspired international cooperation in order to reconfigure the ways in which power and power relations operated. This panel is interested in analyzing the ideological modalities (or beliefs) that made possible a non-belligerent non-alignment movement, and the Chinese influence that fueled it.
Taking the Warsaw Pact (1955) as a departing point in our inquiry, we seek to foreground the cultural dimension of formal and informal transcontinental exchange of beliefs in the form of ideology between China and Eastern Europe. We seek to explore the Sino-East European relations as part of a larger, international Non-Alignment Movement, and to examine the ideological trajectories that inspired the perspectives housed under this alternative view of the world during the Cold War. This panel invites contributors who critically engage with the modes or nexus points of exchange between China and countries from the Eastern European bloc via the Soviet Union or other channels. The panel welcomes case studies and papers including, but not limited to: literary studies, film studies, TV and visual studies etc. We structure this panel around questions including: What are the aesthetics of non-alignment vis-a-vis the Warsaw Pact via Chinese influence? How did artists and writers from Eastern Europe respond to and imagine the Chinese ideological influence? What is the enduring potential of these networks of exchange of ideology? We locate our inquiry in the interstitial space delineated by ideological interpellation and exchange between China and Eastern Europe; this space offers a heuristic of engagement with the Soviet Union’s influence in an act of counterbalancing NATO’s presence in Europe. We consider how these changes and contaminations offered possibilities for imagining, and confronting new international futures that existed in relation to and against geographical proximity.