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Title: Building the Second World: Postwar Socialism in Albania and the Eastern Bloc
Authors: Mehilli, Elidor
Advisors: Kotkin, Stephen
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Albania
Cold War
Eastern Bloc
Socialist Globalization
Soviet Exchange
Urban History
Subjects: European history
East European studies
Russian history
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Was Soviet socialism a form of globalization, too? This dissertation operates at three levels: as one of the first archive-based studies in any language of post-fascist Albania; as a contribution to the global history of modernism and planning; and as an investigation of the emergence of the socialist Eastern bloc, or so-called Second World, through the lens of overlooked transnational exchange. Employing sources from Albanian, British, German, Italian, Russian and US archives, as well as a broad range of only recently declassified documents, it analyzes the Eastern bloc as a system of exchanges in people, practices, technologies, ideas. It does so by focusing on efforts to borrow or copy--in effect, to harmonize--planning and other institutions for producing a new socialist material culture. The view from Albania makes it possible to analyze the bloc both from inside (1950s) and from outside (1960s), when the country estranged itself from the socialist commonwealth. The focus on exchange in planning practices, moreover, allows me to probe more deeply than previously the relationship between local interests and transnational opportunities or imperatives. A former Italian colony, Albania emerged from the Second World War as Yugoslavia's satellite. After the Stalin-Tito split, it became a laboratory for Sovietization, while borrowing from other people's democracies like East Germany and Czechoslovakia as well. Suddenly, in the 1960s, Tirana turned to China. From Mussolini to Mao, then, tiny Albania encapsulated developments and flows that shaped more than one sixth of the world. This dissertation aims to understand how such diffusion took place. It analyzes the interplay between ideology and local power struggles, external and internal factors, indigenous aspirations of modernity and significant geopolitical shifts. By investigating socialist exchange, coercive and non-coercive, both locally and globally, I argue that Soviet-inspired circulations did amount to a kind of socialist globalization. Exchange was profoundly shaped by communist parties, planned economies, and geopolitics. Nevertheless, as the Albanian case reveals, exchange did not necessarily translate into political cohesion within the bloc, loyalty to the center, or even, ultimately, more openness. Globalization in the bloc succeeded materially even as, in the end, it failed politically.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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