CfP: Experts as Agents of Liberation? Expert Cultures and Trans/International Knowledge Networks in Cold War Era

Recent decades have seen a great deal of attention paid to expertise, its circulation and its transfer across various (post-)Cold War borders. In fact, the existence of transnational networks of experts working across the Iron Curtain is often cited as one of the main reasons former Soviet countries embraced the Western model so rapidly and successfully after 1989. One could even, in a somewhat „Whiggish“ manner, interpret the events of 1989 as an example of liberation through expertise.

Much of the literature approaches transnational expert networks and institutions as places in which ideological and geopolitical conflicts, as well as rival types of expertise, have been reconciled in the name of the universal, humanist ideas of modern internationalism. However, the inherent ambiguity of transnational expertise lies not only in the well-known affinity of experts for technocratic approaches and solutions framed by Enlightenment discourses of human emancipation (liberation) and progress (modernity), which entail certain aspects of discipline and control. Simultaneously, a hegemonic discourse is created and other views and perspectives are marginalised due to the discursive and social nature of knowledge and expertise.

Our aim is to put together a panel that will focus on three areas: 1) how experts used, applied and understood the concept of liberation, 2) which power hierarchies and structures influenced the formation of the agenda at the level of international networks, 3) how specific agendas and discourses contributed to liberation processes at the national level.

Please submit your paper proposals (150 words) by February 25th, 2024 to, and include your full name, affiliation, brief CV and your email address. The panel is planned as IN-PERSON. We can offer limited travel support.



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