Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This article aims to present a chapter of a global history of cooperation between the European center of the Soviet World System and African “countries on a socialist path to development.” This contribution is focused on exchanges and interactions between the German Democratic Republic and revolutionary Ethiopia on various levels: Trade, examining the practice of the instrument barter trade “to the mutual advantage” genuinely used in the commercial side of these relations; and Aid, examining practices of the transfer of (material and personal) resources essentially free of charge, often called “solidarity.” After distinguishing layers of cooperation from determinedly negotiated foreign trade agreements in the mutual interest to unilateral “solidarity” transfers in a spirit of “friendship” and carving out main actors in these fields, this contribution identifies spheres of contact, interaction, and cooperation between GDR advisors, experts, and solidarity workers and their Ethiopian counterparts. Flows in the sphere of trade, solidarity, and in personal relations between GDR personnel in Ethiopia and their Ethiopian counterparts are discussed in the perspective of reciprocity. This question of flows and contacts is not primarily examined in the mirror of expectations, intentions, and declarations, but grounded on practices retrieved by the analysis of (primarily German) archive material and on interviews. These sources show those encounters from their practical side, which cannot be resumed by a story of success or failure. The article concludes with an assessment of GDR-Ethiopian cooperation as part of a multilateral entanglement in which Cuba and the Soviet Union were other critical actors.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-6574
Print ISSN
0740-9133
Pages
pp. 15-38
Launched on MUSE
2016-06-28
Open Access
No
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