The Collaborative Research Centre 1199 examines how space is being created in the context of globalization. The studies and discussions highlight the development of different levels of spatialities and of different spatial formats – competing with, contradicting or complementing each other. Adapting this topic to the Soviet bloc during the global Cold War apparently makes for a peculiar task. The strictly centralized socialist regimes with a far-reaching claim of control by the (national) state and „Moscow“ seem to make obsolete any attempt to think about other / different spatial formats than “the state” and “the bloc”. Moreover, these spatial formats (the state and the bloc) in general and the Soviet bloc in particular most likely stand outside or even oppose globalization. The classical storytelling goes like this: national communist parties controlled the state. These parties, controlled by Moscow, and the states, controlled by these parties, formed a bloc. The omnipotent parties inside this bloc controlled all foreign economic activities following an autarkic ideology inspired by Marxism-Leninism, and thus the socialist states and the Soviet bloc were autarkic entities.
The notion of a “bloc” can only be understood in the context of the bipolar spatial order of the Cold War. It is a concept formulated by the “West” to describe the configuration of the socialist camp – the “East”. The notion of a “bloc” explicitly states the monolithic character and the unambiguousness of the boundaries of the addressed spatial entity. That space is a concretion of power rarely appears as clear as in this notion. The use of “bloc” for the state socialist commonwealth is based on an assumedly clear and Soviet-dominated institutionalization, with the Warsaw Pact Organization for defence and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) in the field of economic relations. These organizations define the border and the territoriality of the “bloc”. The analysis of their functioning and interactions as well as their entanglements with the outside world allows questioning of the monolithic and unambiguous character of the “Soviet bloc”, thus allowing the bloc character of Cold war socialism to be questioned. This project aims to do so by looking at activities of the CMEA states in the Global South, or to be more precise, by looking at interactions between Eastern European and African states in the realm of trade, aid and knowledge transfer.
The Collaborative Research Centre 1199 examines how space is being created in the context of globalization. The studies and discussions highlight the development of different levels of spatialities