Cold-War Home Fronts: Comparative Approaches

For four decades after the end of the Second World War, competition between the socialist and capitalist blocs shaped international relations on a global scale. For the main protagonists, the USA, USSR, and their near neighbours in Europe, it was a deferred conflict, but also, paradoxically, a ‘total war’ for which citizens must be ever-vigilant.

The aim of this conference is to consider the ‘home fronts’ in those countries deeply implicated in the Cold War but removed from the fighting. How did the Cold War transform domestic politics and culture? What were the limits of the Cold War’s domestic reach? And were there common experiences of the Cold War on both sides of the conflict?

In this two day conference we hope to address the following themes and questions:

  • Were cultural and political elites able to create and sustain widespread support for the Cold War conflict?

  • How was the national community and its enemy ‘other’ imagined?

  • Did ideological difference shape the way the Cold War was legitimised?

  • How far were these efforts disrupted by counter-cultural or radical groups?

  • What was the impact of this ‘imaginary war’ on conceptions of family, childhood, and gender?

  • How did the nuclear arms proliferation, disarmament and industry affect local communities, the landscape, and the environment?

  • How did the ‘religious cold war’ affect faith communities at home?

  • In what ways did the global crusade to export liberal democracy / socialism to the post-colonial world shape identities back home?

  • How were definitions of citizenship, rights, and duties reconfigured by the cold war?

We particularly welcome papers adopting a comparative approach, but recognise that some potential contributors might prefer to focus on specific national experiences. We will devise panels in such a way as to encourage comparative discussion during each session.

Papers (max 5000 words) will be pre-circulated to participants to facilitate comparative discussion.

We hope to produce a journal special issue based on a small selection of papers depending on the outcomes of the conference.

Conference programme (PDF, 36KB)

Call for papers (PDF, 26KB)