New Cold War Research workshop

New Cold War Research workshop

Helsinki, 1-2 novembre 2010

The purpose of this workshop is to draw special attention to the interconnected relations of trade, technology and competition during the Cold War era. The Cold War period has been viewed by the mainstream literature as an East-West juxtaposition, emphasizing conflict and confrontation between the blocs. The focus of the New Cold War Research workshop is, however, on cooperation and interactions between East and West, which have been mostly overlooked or underestimated. The workshop intends to look at Europe as an arena where East and West met and established relations that resembled, in many cases, the traditional pre-Cold War contact networks.

Trade, technology and competition

Beyond the political spheres of the Cold War, trade – and especially economic profit – was the most powerful motivation for interaction between the two blocs. For the Western partners, the main motivator was solely economic profit, whereas in the East motivation centered on acquiring commodities, and above all, technology. Soon after the Cold War began, technological progress became one of the main boosters of economic growth. The post-World War II technological innovations, e.g., automation and computerisation, were soon defined as strategic technologies and the trade of technology from the West to the Eastern Bloc was restricted by the embargo of the CoCom system. Nevertheless, in spite of trade controls, from the 1950’s until the end of Cold War, active and flourishing trade occurred between the East and West, including the field of technology. Because it was multileveled interaction, smaller states and smaller actors also participated in trade and technology transfers. Technologies were exported mainly from the West to the East, but what is less well-known is that this phenomenon appeared equally from the East to the West.

The Cold War induced a situation in which competition became the key notion in the bipolar confrontation. The constant sense of insecurity and the drive for an ideological hegemony led to an East-West rivalry, most notably in the spheres of ideology and armaments. This workshop, however, investigates ways of competing that were not related to this politically-anchored contest. Competition has been generally viewed in terms of market capitalism, but new research points out that a Western type of competition also occurred in state socialism. This phenomenon appeared as a result of the various forms of multileveled interaction and increasing economic relations between East and West, in which not only goods but also ideas spread through the Iron Curtain. The workshop aims to discuss how trade and the transfer of technology affected the rise of competitiveness inside of the Eastern Bloc.


Organizers:   Sari Autio-Sarasmo ( and Katalin Miklóssy (

The workshop will take place on November 1-2, 2010 at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki (

New Cold War Research workshop is organised by the Nordic Cold War Research Network (NORCENCOWAR) and by the international research project Competition in Socialist Society.


Emilia Robin

Chercheuse associée à l'UMR SIRICE. Violons d'Ingres : guerre froide, médiation scientifique, logiciels libres

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