Workshop Abstract

Global/Transnational Perspectives on Civil Defense from the Cold War Era to the Present Day

March 9-10, 2017, University of Zurich, Switzerland

International Exploratory Workshop[1]


Silvia Berger Ziauddin (University of Zurich, CH), Sarah Robey (Temple University, USA), Peter Bennesved (Umeå University, Sweden)

The exploratory workshop “Global/Transnational Perspectives on Civil Defense from the Cold War Era to the Present Day” is designed to establish a vibrant new network of scholars focused on the study of civil defense and emergency management. In recent years, scholars in a number of fields, including history, science studies, anthropology, and media studies, have developed new approaches to exploring the global Cold War that embrace the cultural and transnational turns. However, the study of public defense against nuclear weapons – or civil defense ­– during the Cold War remains bound by national and temporal bias, and does not often cross the boundaries between disciplines.

Taking cues from the recent interdisciplinary efforts of new cold war studies, this workshop aims to unite scholars across academic fields, national borders, and disciplinary methods to create a collaborative cohort of scholars capable of advancing the new research field of global/transnational civil defense studies encompassing the Cold War period till this day. The two-day workshop at the University of Zurich will bring together junior and senior researchers from Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, and the United States. Through individual presentations, moderated discussions, and focused roundtable sessions, the workshop will give participants an opportunity to get to know each other’s work while uncovering future avenues for cooperation, including an international publication, collaborative research projects, and a follow-up conference. During the workshop, participants will also formulate strategies for expanding the network to new and emerging scholars and those based in institutions in the Global South.

Keywords: Civil Protection, Emergency Management, Global Cold War, New Cold War Studies, Disaster Studies, Transnational History, Transnational Civil Defense Studies, Cold War Legacies

Read the full workshop exposé here, or download as .pdf.

This workshop has also been developed in cooperation with the network Knowledge and the Cold War of the Center History of Knowledge, at the University of Zürich and The Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETZH).

[1] The workshop is generously supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Center History of Knowledge (Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ/UZH) and the Department of History (UZH).