Population dynamics became a key variable of the developmentalist rhetoric during the postwar era. The World Population Conference (wpc) in Bucharest (1974) was marked by open disagreements regarding the interpretation of the relationship between the ‘Third World’s’ underdevelopment and its overpopulation. The main outcome of the wpc 1974, the World Population Plan of Action (wppa) was the product of negotiations and compromises reached by the parties involved. The study deals with the role that the Romanian representatives at wpc 1974 played in the creation of wppa’s final version. The organization of the wpc in Bucharest gave the Romanian delegation a privileged position. The study contextualizes its contribution to the wppa within the particular conditions of population expertise’s emergence in postwar Romania. The study investigates previously unexplored archival fonds (the Archive of Romanian Ministry for Foreign Affairs) and brings into play unknown details of the maneuvers by various actors during the Bucharest conference. The Romanian version of the story adds nuance to the general narrative on the wpc’s outcomes, which presumes a strict separation between the domains of expertise and politics. The article argues that the Romanians’ alternative interpretations of the wppa were not only the result of the political control and ideological conformity, but also an expression of the particular way in which the field of population expertise developed in twentieth-century Romania.
State socialist experts were at the center of Eastern Europe’s internationalization from the mid-1950s until 1989. They acted as intermediaries between their states and other national, regional, and international environments. The contributions integrate national milieus within broader frameworks mostly circumscribed by inter- and nongovernmental specialized organizations (the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; International Theater Institute, or the un Commission on Population and Development). The issue is an innovative initiative to identify within four fields (economy, demography, theatre, and historical studies) state socialist experts’ contributions to international debates and institution building. We argue that these groups were fundamentally characterized by their transnational dynamism. The resultant forms of mobility and transfer resituate specific systems of knowledge production from Eastern Europe within the larger story of postwar globalization. The collection also includes an anthropological study about the internationalization trajectories of lower-ranked professionals and the resilience of their expertise ethics after 1989. Socialist experts’ mobilities can be circumscribed at the intersection of multiple phenomena that defined the postwar: national settings’ impact on inter- and supra-state interactions; Cold War politics; the tribulations of international organizations; and global trends determined by the accelerating interconnectedness of the world and decolonization. Our findings de-center established narratives about the Cold War and they show how representatives from the East participated in and sometimes determined the conditions of Europeanizing and globalizing trends in their respective fields within particular organizations.