Entanglements and Transfers: Socialist East-Central European Actors as Co-Producers of Socio-Economic Globalization Processes

Vol. 34 No. 1-2 (2024)

Entanglements and Transfers: Socialist East-Central European Actors as Co-Producers of Socio-Economic Globalization Processes



This special issue brings together seven studies on the position of East Central European countries and actors in globalization processes in the second half of the twentieth century. Following on from the latest wave of research on this topic, the contributions all focus on the role of actors from areas usually described as (semi-)peripheral but that were nevertheless actively involved in shaping globalization processes. The image of globalization as largely shaped by the West is thus critically questioned.

The history of Cuban workers’ employment in Central Europe, the work of Hungarian professionals in building contacts in the Third World and transferring technology from the West, the history of the Czechoslovak and Hungarian border regimes, the strategies of a large Hungarian company on world markets, the role of East-Central European transport policy in the integration of European transport infrastructure, and the search for an answer to the ageing of society – these all show that the region’s players have not only endured the constraints of the Eastern Bloc and effects of globalization but have also developed their own projects to build networks of connections across borders and continents in order to better solve problems at home and around the world.

Following the path of recent literature in tracing the history of these multifaceted globalization projects, this special issue contributes new insights to revise the image of Western-centric globalization. At the same time, the multiplicity of transnational linkages identified and the divergent logics underlying them raise questions about the possibility of a coherent model of globalization with regard to the relatively small European countries of the Eastern bloc. In some cases, these sought to create an alternative to and, in others, were linked to Western globalization processes. In some cases, they were designed essentially on the basis of the existence of the Eastern Bloc, while in others, they were designed to promote emancipation from the bloc. In exploring these ambiguities, rather than creating a rounded picture, the papers gathered here will hopefully stimulate further research into the global processes of the Cold War era and the history of the state socialist countries.