- Kleinstaaten und sekundäre Akteure im Kalten Krieg: Politische, wirtschaftliche, militärische und kulturelle Wechselbeziehungen zwischen Europa und Lateinamerika ed. by Albert Manke and Katěrina Březinová
This edited volume puts "small states and secondary actors" into the center of a Cold War history on relations, entanglements, and cooperation among Latin American and European countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The volume is coedited by two historians with diverse areas of expertise: Kateřina Březinová, an expert on Chicano iconography and Czechoslovak documentary cinema, among other topics; and Albert Manke, who has published widely on the Cuban revolution. Their joint publication project emerged from a conference at the Metropolitan University Prague in 2013, which had its sole focus on Czechoslovak–Latin American relations. Eight of [End Page 266] the thirteen chapters in the edited volume are based on presentations from this 2013 conference and therefore focus on Czechoslovak–Latin American relations. As both the introduction and these chapters convincingly argue, Czechoslovakia's ties to Latin America were especially close in comparison to those of other Soviet-bloc states. The contributors to the book are an international and interdisciplinary group of junior and senior scholars based in the Czech Republic, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, and Brazil, and their disciplines range from history to area studies, International Relations, and labor studies.
From these diverse backgrounds, the authors address the crucial question of small states' agency and their relative autonomy from both the United States and the Soviet Union in cooperation across the opposing blocs. The book thus combines what Federico Romero in his 2004 essay "Cold War Historiography at the Crossroads" describes as two trends within Cold War historiography; namely, to "decentre from a primarily Euro-Atlantic focus to the complex heterogeneity of the global South" and to shift "from a close frame on the superpowers' decision-makers to the agency of a variety of actors in Latin America, Asia or Africa." However, the book's originality lies in the combination of North-South and East-West dynamics. The book thus pays tribute to Odd Arne Westad's Global Cold War without neglecting the central role of Europe highlighted by Romero.
The volume is framed by a preface from a German specialist on the Cold War, Bernd Greiner, a comprehensive introduction by the editors plus Laurin Blecha, and a conclusion by the editors plus Holger M. Meding, reviewing the subfields of Cold War history discussed in the book. Whereas Greiner sees the volume's main contribution in its analysis of the contradictions, ruptures, and borders within the global cartography of the Cold War, the introduction frames the joint endeavor as an effort to devise a decentralized and entangled perspective within the paradigm of hegemonic dominance. The introduction further stresses the aspiration to look not only at bilateral relations but also at the circulation of material and ideas. However, the introduction also points to the heterogeneity of the contributions, and the concluding chapter further explains that the volume represents the "deliberate merging of contrasting perspectives from different research traditions" (p. 327).
In both choice of topic and methodology, most of the chapters represent classic diplomatic, military, and political history approaches, with one chapter discussing cultural relations. The focus on Czechoslovakia on the European side is complemented by research on Great Britain, East Germany, and West Germany as well as Austria. Three chapters discuss Cuba, and others deal with Brazil, Guatemala, Argentina, Chile, and Nicaragua. The volume also includes contributions with broader coverage, specifically on overall Czechoslovak–Latin American relations (Josef Opatrný), the field of Iberoamerican Studies in Czechoslovakia (Markéta Křižová), and documentary cinema about Latin America in Czechoslovakia (Kateřina Březinová). All these empirical studies are based on extensive archival material from mostly European archives. Although the chapters are preceded by a conceptual essay on small states from an International Relations perspective (Mitchell Belfer), his theoretical considerations are not systematically taken up by the other authors...