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Europe at the Crossroads of Three Worlds. Alternative Histories and Connections of European Solidarity with the Third World, 1950s-1980s

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Over the past few years, there has been growing interdisciplinary interest in the history of European solidarity movements that mobilized on behalf of the ‘Third World’ in the wake of the post-war decolonization process. Focusing on European campaigns against the Vietnam War and Pinochet’s Chile, this article aims at positioning these international solidarity movements in the broader history of North–South and East–West exchanges and connections in Europe during the Cold War. It explores some key ideas, actors and alternative networks that have remained little studied in mainstream accounts and public memories, but which are key to understanding the development of transnational activism in Europe and its relevance to broader fields of research, such as the history of Communism, decolonization, human rights, the Cold War and European identity. It delves into the impact of East–West networks and the Communist ‘First World’ in the discovery of the Third World in Western Europe, analyses the role of Third World diplomacy in this process, and argues how East–West and North–South networks invested international solidarity campaigns on ‘global’ issues with ideas about Europe’s past and present. Together, these networks turned resistance against the Vietnam War, human-rights violations in Pinochet’s Chile, and other causes in the Third World into themes for détente and pan-European cooperation across the borders of the Iron Curtain, and made them a symbol to build a common identity between the decolonized world and Europe. What emerges from this analysis is both a critique of West-centred narratives, which are focused on anti-totalitarianism, as well as an invitation to take North–South and East–West contacts, as well as the role of European identities, more seriously in the international history of human rights and international solidarity.
Journal: European Review of History
ISSN: 1350-7486
Issue: 6
Volume: 24
Pages: 932 - 954
Publication year:2017