The article explores the main features of cooperation between economic experts during the pre-csce (Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe) period (1947–1975) under the aegis of the most comprehensive all-European organization of the period, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (unece). At scientific and policy levels, contacts and exchanges between socialist and capitalist economic experts were circumscribed by common priorities and challenges faced by the unece staff and governments from both sides of the Iron Curtain. The article presents four types of activities pertaining to East-West cooperation: international conferences, training programs, institutionalized consultations (under the Committee for Trade Development and the group of Senior Economic Advisers to the unece Governments), and direct collaboration with the unece Secretariat and its subsidiary bodies. The contribution focuses on the institutional aspects of the socialist economic experts’ participation in the unece’s cooperative framework and the pan-European epistemic community. The study argues that the unece’s efforts towards détente also took into account community-building in the fields of economics, development of trade, and harmonization of policy-making from a transnational, all-European perspective.
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.