[P6570] New Perspectives on the Global Cold War in the Middle East: Transnational Solidarity and South-South Connections

Created by William Figueroa
Thursday, 12/02/21 11:30 am


Traditional accounts of the Cold War in the Middle East tend to focus on state affairs, the superpower rivalry, and inter-Arab competition. More recent scholarship has shifted the focus to the “hot spots” of the Cold War in the Global South, but still tends to primarily focus on the domestic impact of relations with the Soviet Union or the United States. As a result, there has been increased interest in the “Global Cold War” and on South-South connections, and the ways in which not only governments, but students, activists, and intellectuals across Asia, Africa, and Latin America confronted and co-operated with one another on the international stage. The goal of this panel is to draw attention to new and emerging scholarship on the transnational dynamics of the Cold War in the Middle East, highlighting connections between the Middle East and the rest of the Global South.

Each of the papers presented in this panel draws on new archival, printed, oral, and visual sources in Persian, Arabic, and Chinese to explore previously overlooked transnational connections during the Cold War and how they interact with nationalist and internationalist narratives. We examine the meaning behind transnational solidarity between Egyptian students and the Palestinian liberation movement, Iraq’s cultural ties to the Third World and diplomacy during the Non-Aligned Movement, and the interest of both the Iranian state and Iranian opposition groups in the Vietnam War and the Chinese Revolution. We push back against historiography that downplays the significance of social and cultural movements that failed to assume the mantle of state authority, but nevertheless challenged state authority and made significant and lasting contributions to both national and international history.

The result of our approach demonstrates that the history of the Cold War in the Middle East must go beyond U.S-Soviet rivalry and domestic conflict. Important work remains to be done to recover the history of social and cultural ties across Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East.





Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet

(University of Pennsylvania)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

Arash Azizi

(New York University (NYU))
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

William Figueroa

(University of Pennsylvania)
My area of expertise is the relationship between China and Iran, with a background in modern Iranian history, modern Chinese history, and the Cold War. More broadly, I am interested in the relationship between leftist politics and political Islam, the...
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Lorenz Luthi

(McGill University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant; Presenter;