Experts on the Bhilai Steel plants, 1962 © Sputnik Images, Photo #148207

Subject Area

Operating in the Global Economy

The East European economy has confronted dynamic processes of economic globalisation since the middle of the 19th century. Peripheralisation and global economic crises, world wars and the Cold War formed strongly fluctuating frameworks that shaped the regional efforts to modernise economy and society.

These researches focus on how East European economic actors reacted to these challenges, as well as their efforts to influence processes of globalisation through actively operating in line with their own interests and ideas. In doing so, the work critically scrutinises the previously dominating views of the East European economy as »backward« or »diverging from the normal path«. It does so by paying more attention to reciprocal trans-national and trans-regional interconnections in the field of foreign trade and infrastructure politics as well as the transfer of capital, technologies and development concepts. These studies examine both structural changes and constellations of actors to analyse the manifold positioning strategies of East European states, social groups and individuals employed in the process of economic globalisation.

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Research Themes

Global Trade

As part of researches into Eastern Europe’s trade relations with other parts of the world from the late 19th century to the present, this section particularly analyses the politics of foreign trade and infrastructure as essential elements of East-European positioning strategies within economic globalisation. 

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Soviet Dams for the »Third World«

SFB 1199

Cold War dam constructions were projects of particularly strong significance for political propaganda that simultaneously massively transformed regional economic structures. This research examines the Soviet Union’s economic-technical collaboration with countries from the Global South by taking technology transfer in the water infrastructure field as its case study.

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Technology Transfer Between Eastern Europe and China


In the 1950s, Eastern Europe’s socialist states contributed to the People’s Republic of China’s economic development with numerous industrial projects. This project examines competing operating logics and interests within this East-East collaboration and its relation to the global economy.

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The Soviet handicraft industry during the New Economic Policy

The handicraft industry belonged to the long-standing and traditional forms of socio-productive activity of the Ukrainian population and during the years of the New Economic Policy adopted a high profile in the national economy of Ukraine and Kharkiv in particular.

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