Transatlantic Contemporary History (TCH) – University of Copenhagen

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Transatlantic Contemporary History (TCH) Research Group

The purpose of this new research group (initiated 2013) is to address a variety of issues related to the significance of the so-called ‘long 1970s’ to the post-Cold War “new world order” in Europe and the Transatlantic region:

Increasingly during the last ten years or so, European and American researchers of contemporary history have grappled with the significance of ‘the long 1970s’, which has been viewed as a decade of important transition, not least in terms of transatlantic and European political culture and political power relations (http://epokeskiftet.saxo.ku.dk/english/). Traditional diplomacy and transnational organisations brought issues of human rights, East-West détente, globalization, European integration, and democratization to the forefront of the political agenda in the Euro-Atlantic area.

The significance of these political and socio-cultural developments to the evolution of the ‘long détente’ and the processes that led to the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s has also prompted historians and other social researchers to review and upgrade the influence of ideas, perceptions, and culture in political decision-making. The result has been a distinct broadening of perspective and focus from top level Euro-Atlantic political decision making to looking deeper into societies to identify the manifold (non-state) agents of societal and international change. In this process, historians have benefitted from developments in the disciplines of socio-cultural studies, legal studies, and international relations theory.

In this epistemological process of conceptual innovations, and with the additional benefit of the passage of time and distance, historians have not only come to see clearer the dual nature of the Cold War: a bipolar East-West ideological and geo-strategic confrontation, as well as a part of a larger, deeper and longer-term struggle within the West on how to create a stable liberal European and international world order, based on consumer capitalism, without the economic depressions and great power wars of the first half of the 20th century.

Based on this gaze at the Cold War period, historians are also beginning to realize the end of the Cold War not necessarily as the beginning of a “new world order”, but rather as a conservative world-historical event, namely the consolidation of the U.S.-led post-1945 international order, at least in the shorter term (‘the unipolar moment’). Increased globalization, European and other regional integration and democratization, but also increased liberalization of global financial markets, fragmentation, nationalism, civil wars, highly controversial military interventions, religious fundamentalism, disorder and instability have dominated the post-Cold War international world. All of this has led to a new pluralism of international governance, mixing the old multilateral institutions with other forms of transnational governance.

The TCH Research Group is based at the Saxo Institute, and in cooperation with CEMES it plans to organize research seminars as well as public lectures during the Autumn 2013, covering topics such as: Transatlantic cooperation on human rights, 1970s to the present; European Social Democratic transnational cooperation concerning East-West détente and North-South relations in the 1970s and the 1980s; European small states détente policies and transnational cultural East-West diplomacy in the 1970s and the 1980s; Euro-Transatlantic religious ties since the late Cold War.

Group members:
Professor Poul Villaume, Dr.Phil., Saxo Institute 
Professor Helle Porsdam, PhD., Dr.Phil., Saxo Institute
Associate Professor Regin Schmidt, Ph.D., Saxo Institute
Assistant Professor Rasmus Mariager, Ph.D., Saxo Institute
PhD candidate Dino Knudsen, Saxo Institute
PhD candidate Gry Thomasen, Saxo Institute
PhD candidate Steven L.B. Jensen, Saxo Institute
Visiting scholar: Professor Csaba Békés, Corvinus University of Budapest. 

The group is open for new members.
Please contact Poul Villaume villaume@hum.ku.dk.