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Crossing the Borders of Friendship: Mobility across Communist Borders

(Three panels at the 44th Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Nov. 15-18, New Orleans)

Discussants: Diane Koenker, Dariusz Stola, Jamie Monson

Chairs: Eagle Glassheim, Jannis Panagiotidis, Jakub Benes

This collection of panels brings twelve scholars from Poland, Germany, Canada, Israel, France, and the United States to explore mobility write large in post-World War II East Central Europe. The first panel provides case studies of physical mobility—how individuals immigrated and emigrated to communist countries. Depending on the time and the country, individuals faced a series of hurdles to leave or return home. The legacy of forced ethnic cleansing and the holocaust blurred what it meant to be “native” and also made authorities hyper-sensitive to personal mobility across borders. The second panel analyses cultural mobility. How did music, literature, or clothing transcend borders, and what effect did it have on citizens of foreign countries? Since communist countries varied in their cultural liberalization, what could be heard on the streets of Budapest or Prague might be downright subversive in East Berlin. How did authorities promote or prevent the dissemination of cultural objects? In our third panel, we explore the experience of borders. What type of harassment did foreign nationals face on the border and in the interior? How did peoples separated by newly and sometimes arbitrarily imposed borders interact? Individuals were affected by border controls in varying degree. On the one hand, preconceived views of the foreign nation were challenged at the border. On the other, the foreign country explicitly attempted to change foreign nationals, making them more “modern” and/or “socialist.”
Mark Keck-Szajbel

Panel I: Emigration and immigration

Dariusz Stola: “Opening a non-exit state: evolution of the 'passport policy' in communist Poland”

Jannis Panagiotidis: “What is the German’s Fatherland? The GDR and the Resettlement of Ethnic Germans from Socialist Countries (1949-1989)”

Marcos Silber: "Crossing back the Iron Curtain: Return migration from Israel to Poland during the 50s'"

Panel II: Cultural penetration

Lisa Jakelski: "Pushing Boundaries: Musical Exchange at the Warsaw Autumn Festival."

Jakub Benes: “The ‘Soft’ Power of Czechoslovak Communism Abroad: Zmijovky/Cabral Hats as Socialist Global Commodities in the Revolutionary Third World”

Mark Aaron Keck-Szajbel: "Don’t Think the World is Yours: The Transfer of Culture in 1970s and 1980s East Central Europe"

Panel III:

Igor Tchoukarine: “Czechoslovaks on the Move: Friendship, Suspicion, and the Yugoslav Border”

Sabine Dullin: “Malenkaia granitsa” at the Inter-Socialist Boundary. The Agreements of Good Neighborliness at the Slovak-Ukrainian Border in the Khrushchev and Brezhnev Era

Maxim Matusevich: “Expanding the Boundaries of the Black Atlantic: African Students as the Soviet Moderns”