Continuing Politics by Other Means: Giving in Cold War Europe

In: International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity
Cristian Capotescu
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This article unearths the little-known history of charitable giving in Cold War Europe. The first case explores supply conduits forged in the German Romanian community of West Germany and Romania. Starting in the late 1960s, Western community members became involved in supporting those left behind in Romania through care packages and tourist visits. As the political leadership under Nicolae Ceaușescu adopted drastic austerity measures in the early 1980s, the second case shows how East German volunteer groups organized aid to Romania from within the socialist bloc. The discussion concludes that the provisioning relationships uncovered in both examples integrated the world of materials into daily aspirations of ‘governing precarious lives’ to a new repertoire for public action that did not remain external to politics but rather reformulated what was at stake in politics through immediate, direct acts of assistance.

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