Technology and the Making of Europe

Conference 'Economic Entanglements in East-Central Europe'

14 November - 16 November 2012
Location: Leipzig, Germany
Organizer: Dagmara Jajeśniak-Quast & Uwe Müller

CfP: Economic Entanglements in East-Central Europe and the COMECON’s Position in the Global Economy (1949–1991)

Abstract submission deadline: 15.03.2012

Projektgruppe „Ostmitteleuropa Transnational“ GWZO Leipzig and Fachkommission Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften J.G. Herder-Forschungsrat, 14.-16.11.2012, Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas e.V. (GWZO) an der Universität Leipzig; Speck’s Hof (Eingang A), Reichstr. 4-6, D- 04109 Leipzig.

The further incorporation of East-Central Europe into the Soviet sphere of influence in the wake of WWII had far-reaching consequences for the economic relations both between East-Central European countries and between the region and other parts of the world. The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA/ COMECON), founded in 1949, shaped the socialist countries’ room to manoeuvre both economically and geographically for the next four decades. Since its dissolution more than 20 years ago, the CMEA has become an object of research in various branches of economic history. The historicisation of research on the CMEA and the continual opening of new resource material have brought forth new perspectives and questions. It therefore deserves consideration that, although the CMEA eventually proved to be a failed effort at supranational coordination of national planned economies, it was never reducible simply to a free trade zone as it initiated and coordinated joint projects in large economic and infrastructural areas. Therefore studying the wide range of bottom-up attempts at cooperation and integration offers new insights into the system and operation of central planned economies. Despite efforts at autarky both at the level of individual nations and the bloc at large, contacts with neutral and non-aligned states played an important role in CMEA countries’ foreign trade relations as early as the 1950s and 1960s. Changing global economical conditions in the 1970s brought about a revision of economic and political strategies in which relations with the “First” and “Third World” earned ever more significance.

The conference aims to take a provisional assessment of related enquiries and bring together economic historians, economists, political scientists and contemporary historians in an interdisciplinary dialogue.  

In doing so, the following themes will receive special focus:

  • Interrelationships within the parallel processes of Western European integration, and the economic relations of CMEA countries to Western, neutral, non-aligned and developing countries;
  • Alternative forms of economic interaction within the CMEA, for example on sub-level sector-specific organisation or on the level of “enterprises”, as well as the role of individual actors (scholars, engineers, economists) and expert networks in transnational cooperation;
  • Transnational projects in the areas of industry, (transportation) infrastructure, trade, research, and development both within the CMEA and with the “First” and “Third World”;
  • The impact of the integration of East-Central European states’ commercial policies (pricing, terms of trade) and the effects of the CMEA economic policies (the creation of standing commissions at the end of the 1950s and the Complex Programme of 1971) on the economic development of the individual states and sectors.

The organisers will cover speakers’ travel costs and accommodation in Leipzig. We especially welcome proposals from early career scholars and are available to answer any questions.

Please send an abstract of your paper (maximum 3,500 characters) by 15 March 2012 to Dr. Dagmara Jajeśniak-Quast ( or Dr. Uwe Müller (