Christopher Seiberlich is a doctoral candidate in Contemporary History at the University of Tübingen
Doctoral candidate in Contemporary History at the University of Tübingen (Prof. Dr. Jan Eckel)
State examination (History & German Language and Literature), University of Freiburg
History, German Language and Literature, Theatre studies at the University of Gothenburg
2009 - 2012 and 2014 - 2016
History, German Language and Literature at the University of Freiburg
Doctoral scholarship, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
2012 - 2016
Scholarship, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes
Social Democracy and the Postcolonial World Order (working title)
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jan Eckel
Within a few years after 1969, several social democratic parties assumed power in Europe, setting out to forge ambitious new programs for their countries’ foreign policies. For the first time since the Second World War, these countries now possessed a social democratic foreign policy that moreover broke with long-standing national traditions of navigating international affairs. On the one hand, the new departures in foreign policy responded to what policymakers saw as a rapidly changing global situation. Détente appeared to overcome the „Cold War”, the growing „interdependence” of world regions put new global problems on the agenda, the Bretton Woods system was about to dissolve and decolonization had produced numerous new states that established themselves as influential actors on the international stage. On the other hand, social democratic governments were determined to take advantage of this perceived moment of fluidity in order to shape the international system according to their visions. In their eyes, developing a forward-looking relationship with the global South represented one of the most significant tasks in this endeavor.
This project examines how these governments created a new social democratic foreign policy during the 1970s and 1980s by means of confronting the problems of the emerging postcolonial order. It focuses on three particular governments and their policies in two important fields, studying the West German, Dutch, and Swedish roles in the debates on the creation of a „New International Economic Order” and their attitudes toward colonial or minority rule and liberation movements in Southern Africa. Resolving both issues was widely seen as essential for the future of both social democracy and international politics. The project will study how the ideas for a new social democratic foreign policy emerged, how governments put them into practice, and what results these new approaches yielded.
The study proposed here will connect the history of social democracy and the history of what contemporaries termed the conflict between „North” and „South”. It strives to expand our knowledge on three levels: Firstly, the project highlights Social Democracy as a crucial actor in international affairs and, at the same time, foreign policy as an important field of Social Democratic action, combining two aspects that have received scant attention among historians. Secondly, the project contributes to exploring the transformation of the international order during the 1970s and 1980s. Thirdly, it seeks to nuance our understanding of these decades as the „beginning of our present” by emphasizing contemporaries’ expectations of and attempts to bring about a more just and equal world order than the one that subsequently emerged.