Cities and Transnational Interaction. The Cultural Contacts between West and East European Urban Centres during and beyond the Cold War

This research project aims at assessing the nature of cultural interaction between Western and Eastern Europe during the Cold War and its aftermath by exploring the transnational cultural cooperation, networks and contacts between cities and non-governmental organizations operating in cities from the mid-1940s to the end of the 1990s.

The project proceeds from the hypothesis that cities and non-governmental organizations played a more central role in the Cold War cultural interaction than hitherto acknowledged. Occupying a middle ground between governmental and individual levels these intermediate level actors on both sides of the Iron Curtain often had more room for manoeuvre than their governmental and individual counterparts. Accordingly, cities and non-governmental organizations were, to a certain degree, able to pursue their own practical goals. In addition, they were able to maintain and in some cases establish connections across the Iron Curtain. Ideas and information were exchanged, and cultural influences flowed back and forth, which, in the long run, reduced confrontation and paved the way for political changes.

The project will focus on cities located on both sides of the Iron Curtain. It employs a comparative approach, and covers a wide span of time, extending from the 1940s to the end of the 1990s. In this way it is possible to explore the role transnational contacts and networks dating back to the pre-war era played during the Cold War as well as the developments of this interaction after the end of the Cold War. Theoretically, the project draws on discussions concerning network theory and diffusion of innovations, but will also benefit from the latest developments in Cold War studies.

The project is funded by the Academy of Finland for 2010–2013 and the research is conducted at the University of Tampere and at its Department of History and Philosophy. The project is a member of the Cold War Research Group -Consortium of the Aleksanteri Institute and co-operates among others with the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme (FiDiPro). Leader of the project is professor Marjatta Hietala.

Contact person: Marjatta Hietala PhD, Prof., marjatta.hietala [at]
Funding: Academy of Finland
Duration: 01.01.2010–31.12.2013


Kirsi Ahonen M.A.
Audra Januzyte PhD
Sampsa Kaataja PhD
Antti Sarasmo M.A.
Aleksandra Stupar PhD
Timo Vilén M.A.

Cities and Transnational Interaction


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