David Spreen

Historian

Publications

Rethinking Social Movements after '68 (Edited Volume Cover)
Rethinking Social Movements
after ’68 (Edited Volume Cover)

Chapter: “Radical Protest or Shadow Diplomacy: The Decolonization of Zimbabwe and West German Maoism, 1960-1980,” in Rethinking Social Movements after 68: Selves and Solidarities in West Germany and Beyond edited by Belinda Davis, Friederike Brühöfener, and Stephen Milder. New York: Berghahn Books, 2022.

Few of the characteristics broadly attributed to social movements after—and born of—the upheavals of 1968 apply to the case of Maoism. They were neither anti-authoritarian nor bottom-up; neither organized around single-issues nor easily assimilated into the progress narrative of feminism and New Social Movements. By examining the collaboration between Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union and the Communist League of West Germany, this chapter argues that they were nonetheless emblematic of a key characteristic of post-1968 social movements: the increasingly global orientation of a left enabled by decolonization and infused with meaning by the global Cold War.

Check later for the manuscript (PDF/unedited) or recommend the volume to your library!

Publications
European Review of History/Revue Européenne d’histoire 29:3

Article: “Signal Strength Excellent in West Germany: Radio Tirana, European Maoist Internationalism and its Disintegration in the Global Seventies” in European Review of History: Revue Européenne d’histoire, 29:3, June 2022.

That the European protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s were marked by transnational connections, mobilities, and interactions is now widely accepted. This article takes two West German Maoist parties and their multi-layered transnational connections as a vantage point from which to explore the role that Albania and its Cold War broadcaster, Radio Tirana, played in establishing transnational Maoism as a global language of protest able to accommodate a wide variety of political causes in the aftermath of decolonization. Looking at transnationalism in different modes—understood here as different conceptual spaces—reveals that Maoist transnationalism was highly uneven. The article argues that the global Cold War both created the conditions under which China and Albania could become the centre of global Maoism and undermined the ideological coherence of Maoism. As the Sino-Albanian alliance began to unravel, Maoism as a global space of belonging also became increasingly fractured, although the effects of disintegration were again uneven: broadcasting and the circulation of Maoist knowledge continued—even expanded—while Maoism as a plausible politics in the Global North increasingly faded into the background.

Get in touch for a copy of the published version (paywall) or download the accepted manuscript (PDF/unedited).