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Revisiting State Socialism (V)

February 22th in Bucharest, 7 p.m

Grădina ArtHub,
General Constantin Budișteanu Street, no 10

We invite you to join our series of conferences by and Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj under the PNRR project Philosophy in Late Socialist Europe: Theoretical Practices in the Face of Polycrisis.

Our Bucharest meeting is moderated by Adela Hîncu.

Our podcast series here:

Our HMCluj 2024 conference here:

Socialism, Alternative Globalization, and Human Rights
talk by Raluca Grosescu & Bogdan Iacob

State socialism had a crucial role in post-war globalization and the subsequent crafting of international law. During the Cold War, Eastern Europe produced trans-regional circulations, epistemic networks, and institutional projects alternative to but interconnected with those generated in the West. Decolonization was the catalyst for socialist globalism in international organizations, at the level of inter-governmental relations and in terms of reconceptualizing norms and hierarchies.

Starting from this perspective on the global that goes beyond Eurocentrism and emphasizes pluralism in imagining and governing the world, the event brings to the forefront the contributions of Eastern European experts at the criminalization of apartheid and the codification of healthcare as human right at the United Nations. The talk will highlight alliances between Eastern Europeans and representatives of postcolonial states aimed at transforming international law on the basis of human rights. These were understood from the vantage points of condemning colonialism, affirming the non-discriminatory duty of states toward welfare, and democratizing the UN and its specialized bodies. Experts from Eastern Europe, Africa, and some Latin American countries were the most vocal advocates of internationally condemning racial discrimination. The same group pushed for the recognition not only of health as a human right as a legal comprehensive obligation of states toward their citizens, but also as challenge against social-economic inequalities in the world.

The global role of state socialism in the development of international law opens the door to analyzing diverse visions about social justice and transnational networks of political and intellectual solidarity, which have often been ignored, both abroad and in Romania. The event does not propose a triumphalist approach, a panegyric to progressist mobilizations forgotten because of hegemonic neoliberalism. We argue instead that state interests, different visions about socialism, and multiple modernities marked the criminalization of apartheid and the struggle for health as a human right. The legacies of the competition and conflicts over anti-racism and humanitarianism, explored along the East-South axis, are complex. Yet, they remain relevant up to this day.

This work was supported by the project "Philosophy in Late Socialist Europe: Theoretical Practices in the Face of Polycrisis" financed by the European Union - NextgenerationEU and the Government of Romania, within the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for Romania, contract no. 760044//23.05.2023, code PNRR-C9-I8-CF104/15.11.2022, through the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitization, within Component 9, Investment I8.

The main partner of is ERSTE Stiftung.

Raluca Grosescu and Bogdan Iacob acknowledge the support of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation, CNCS-UEFISCDI, through the project PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2020-1337: "The Contribution of State Socialist Countries of Eastern Europe to the Development of International Criminal and Humanitarian Law after 1945”.