21. Joachim-Lelewel-Gespräch: How Ideas Travel: Knowledge Relations and the Cold War


Do. 02.12.2021 | 18:00 Uhr
Dr. Dorota Woroniecka-Krzyżanowska

In the wake of the Cold War and decolonization, both Western and Eastern blocs offered various kinds of education and development programs to bring countries of the ‘Third World’ into their respective spheres of influence. Knowledge and technical assistance, personified by large numbers of experts involved in these programs, were instrumental in the efforts to forward the competing models of capitalist/socialist modernization. Through educational aid, and most significantly scholarship programs, both sides of the political divide struggled for hearts and minds of future elites of the postcolonial world.

The dominant discourse on these knowledge engagements continues to assume the logic of transfer, whereby knowledge and technical expertise originating from the ‘First/Second World’ were taught, distributed and implemented in the ‘Third’. Participants of this Lelewel-Talk will challenge such logic through their research on different kinds of knowledge relations that unfolded between Polish People’s Republic and the countries of Africa and the Middle East. Rather than unidirectional transfer of ideas, the perspective of knowledge relations allows to explore how knowledge was produced in interaction between different actors – students, teachers, experts and others – in particular spatial, temporal and institutional contexts. By bringing together scholars working on both ‘Third World’ students in Poland and Polish experts abroad, the debate aims to showcase and reflect upon the different mechanisms and trajectories, as well as meanings and legacies, of knowledge mobilities during the Cold War.


Dr Justyna Turkowska (University of Edinburgh) studied history, sociology and political science at the Universities of Warsaw, Berlin and Hannover. She completed her PhD at the University of Giessen in 2016. Her PhD thesis on the transnational aspects of the history of medicine in the Eastern borderlands of the German Empire was awarded the Fritz Theodor Epstein Award of the Association of German Historians of Eastern Europe and the Scientific PhD Award of the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Berlin.

Before joining the University of Edinburgh as a DAAD-Lecturer in September 2018, Dr Turkowska worked as a lecturer at in the University of Bonn at the Department of History of Medicine and at the University of Giessen (Germany) at the Department of Central and Eastern European History. Her current project analyses the transfer and circulation of technical geological expertise as well as the role of experts and their activities within the Global North-East-South solidarity ties and cooperation patterns in the 1960s-1980s.

Dr Zaur Gasimov (University of Bonn) studied International Relations, International Law and History in Baku and Berlin. In 2009, he graduated from the PhD program at the Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, and joined the Leibniz-Institute of European History in Mainz. From 2013 to 2019, Gasimov was a Senior Research Fellow at the German Orient Institute in Istanbul. In 2020, Gasimov joined the Russian Studies Department of the University of Bonn, Germany, as a DFG Principal Investigator. He published extensively on Russian-Turkish relations, and entangled history of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and commented current Russian-Turkish relations for BBC, Voice of America, and Radio Free Europe. His last monograph “Historical Dictionary of Azerbaijan. New Edition” was published in 2018. 

Dr Matthieu Gillabert (University of Fribourg) is senior lecturer in contemporary history at the University of Fribourg. As a specialist in the history of Swiss cultural diplomacy (Dans les coulisses de la diplomatie culturelle helvétique, Alphil, 2013), he has focused his research on the cultural trans-bloc cultural relations. He has also published an illustrated monograph on the history of Warsaw (Varsovie métropole 1865 à nos jours, Noir sur Blanc, 2016). Since 2014, he developed several projects on student mobilities and student movements in the Cold War, especially in the Eastern Bloc with a postcolonial approach. In 2021, he defends his habilitation on the subject “From the internationalization of the university to student internationalism. Student migration in Europe at the time of university massification (1945-1980)”.

Chair: Dr Dorota Woroniecka-Krzyżanowska (German Historical Institute Warsaw)

2 December 2021, 18:00, online per Zoom

The event is connected to "Relations in the Ideoscape: Middle Eastern Students in the Eastern Bloc" research project implemented by the Orient Institute Beirut in cooperation with the German Historical Institute Moscow and the German Historical Institute Warsaw". 


Wir laden herzlich zum 21. Joachim-Lelewel-Gespräch ein. Die Diskussion findet online und auf Englisch statt. 
Link zur Online-Veranstaltung:


Meeting ID: 868 8388 0407
Passcode: 205020

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