Lecture Series

WONAGO Lecture Series




05:00 p.m. (CET)


06:30 p.m. (CET)

  • About the WONAGO Lecture Series The decades since the late twentieth century have been marked by both the end of the bipolar world order and the rise of the countries and regions of the Global South. Most explanations of these major changes focus on political and economic power shifts and pay less attention to the ideas of order on which political and economic decisions are based. In particular, not much research has been done on how actors within the Global South understand and influence world order.

    World Order Narratives of the Global South (WONAGO) is a project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and collectively led by Universität Hamburg (UHH) and the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA). The project explores how and why narratives of world order would be articulated and communicated in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East during the Cold War and then in the years since its end too. Our main interest is in highlighting the agency of actors from the Global South by examining their interactions with each other and comparing their narratives.

    As part of this project, the WONAGO lecture series aims to generate an interdisciplinary discussion around various components of these world order narratives and build a community of scholars and policymakers engaged with these issues. We therefore invite guests based in different parts of the world to present their understandings of how key Global South actors have been describing the world order, how they construct, disseminate, and renegotiate their narratives, and how this has affected political, cultural, and social developments more broadly. The lectures take place monthly in virtual or hybrid format, depending on the pandemic situation. Information on our activities is available here, and our project Twitter handle is @WONAGO_HH.

    Upcoming Event

    Hold Your Tongue: Towards a Comparative History of “Small Languages” in Southern Africa and South Asia, 1850s–1930s

    Wednesday, 18 January 2023 | 5:00–6:30 p.m. (CET)  

    Location: Research Centre “Hamburg's (post-)colonial Legacy”, Rothenbaumchausse 34, 20148 Hamburg (mezzanine level entry, on the left side next to Hamburg University Guest House) and online

    In postcolonial historiography of both Southern Africa and South Asia, the relationship between colonialism and language has predominantly come to be cast in a manner that privileges such African and Asian languages which command substantive constituencies running into millions. In putting together a comparative story of the often-overlooked “small languages” in these two locations over a period of almost ninety years, this lecture attempts to complicate the easy narrative of vernacularity in the Global South. It explores the political implications of the familial model in the European linguistic imagination, the unequal access to and the uneven imprints of print technology, and the halting histories of standardisation and institutionalisation in colonial frontiers. Attention is given not only to the varying textures of the discursive entwinement of the ethnological and the philological but also to the different ways in which the language question came to be bound up with the promise of representative government in late-colonial climates. Excavating the formation of “small languages” in this style, the lecture contends, allows us to rethink the possibilities of anticolonial histories outside the strictures of methodological nationalism.

    Speaker: Dr. Bodhisattva Kar (Department of Historical Studies at UCT University of Cape Town (UCT))

    Moderator: Dr. Diana M. Natermann (Universität Hamburg)

    Language: English

    Attendance Join this event either on-site or online. If you choose the online format, please do not forget to register.

    Previous Events

    Rearranging Cuba’s International Relations after the Fall of the Berlin Wall (Recomposición de las relaciones internacionales de Cuba tras la caída del muro de Berlín (1989-2022))

    Wednesday, 21 September 2022 | 4:00–5:30 p.m. (CET)  

    Location: Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, ESA W 221, Flügel West, 20146 Hamburg or online

    This conference addresses the changes in international and political relations Cuba was forced to undergo at the beginning of the 1990s. The collapse of Socialism in Eastern Europe (1989–1990) and the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991), along with the strengthening of the economic blockade by the United Stateswith the Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts, put the Cuban Revolution in the most difficult predicament it had ever faced. The deep and unexpected economic crisis ensuing was driven by the simultaneous loss of markets, prices, and credits, as well as of political and military allies. 

    In less than four decades, Cuba had to reorient its economy and alliances twice at a stroke. First, because of the transformations happening after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, when it was necessary to modify the entire socio-economicstructure of the country and its political and military tiesin response to US hostility. Then, second, at the end of the 1990s – when the environmentin which Cuba had found itself since the 1960s abruptly vanished – the island had, in the middle of an unparalleled economic crisis, to once again drastically alterall its external relations. To a great extent, its economic system had to change as well, with the country facing the acute dilemma of either preserving the social gains achieved by the Revolution or surrendering to the siege of the US, which, taking advantage of the situation, redoubled the blockade. Favouring this new orientation was the extensive collaboration agreements signed first with the People’s Republic of China and later with Russia. However, the most significant of them has been the close collaboration with Venezuela, as well as the foundation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), a new mechanism of regional integration in which Nicaragua, Bolivia, and other Latin American and Caribbean countries participate. ALBA has been the main base of support of the Cuban Revolution in the twenty-firstcentury. In particular, trade between Cuba and Venezuela would thereafter reach unprecedented levels. 

    Speaker: Dr. Sergio Guerra Vilaboy (University of Havana) 

    Moderator: Dr. Natália Ayo Schmiedecke (Universität Hamburg) 

    Language: Spanish

    Latin American Travels in the 19th Century: Gender, Narratives, and Projections on Europe and the United States

    Wednesday, 17 August 2022 | 6:15–7:45 p.m. (CET)

    Location: Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, ESA W 122, Flügel West, 20146 Hamburg or online

    It has been said that the 19th century is the “golden age” of travel reports. To a large extent, European imperialism contributed to the fulfillment of many trips since knowledge of non-European areas of the globe could add advantages to a cultural, political, and, ultimately, economic power. So much so, that we consider it natural to call “travelers” only those who transited from Europe to Latin America and less likely those who traveled in the opposite direction.

    Despite the difference in scale, 19th century Latin America also produced its travelers – men and women. What can we say about the perceptions of these characters on trips to Europe and the United States? Would it be possible to understand their testimonies as a manifestation of what is currently called the Global South? And what about the reports of women? Would they represent a kind of “double counter direction” in a more general picture in which the hegemonic vision was male and European?

    The main objectives of this lecture are to analyse, through these narratives, Latin American projections on Europe and the United States in the 19th century and to understand how travel experiences may have collaborated to create and consolidate identities; besides how gender relations contributed to these visions.

    Speaker: Dr. Stella Franco (University of São Paulo)

    Moderation: Dr. Thiago Prates (Universität Hamburg)

    Narratives and Testimonies of Cuban Internationalists in Africa and the Middle East During the Cold War

    Thursday, 12 May 2022 | 6:30-8:00 p.m. (CET)

    Location: Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, ESA W 221, Flügelbau Westen, 20146 Hamburg or online

    Cuba’s internationalism with Africa and the Middle East during the Cold War has gathered a lot of attention by Western scholars in the last two decades. Most well-known missions took place in Portuguese Guinea, Angola, Argelia, and Syria. However, there are no academic historical publications regarding these episodes written by Cuban scholars due to the difficulty of getting records from the different archives in Havana. In contrast, several testimonies of people who fought in these conflicts have been published in the island in the past years. During this presentation different narratives and testimonies of Cuban internationalists in Africa and the Middle East during the Cold War will be presented, contextualized and analyzed in order to find out their main characteristics and reflect on the uses of memory of which they are a part.

    Speaker: Dr. Fernando Camacho Padilla is a researcher at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Moderation: Dr. Natália Ayo Schmiedecke is a researcher at the Universität Hamburg.

    Clandestine Transcripts of Revolutionary Globalization: The Shining Paths of Late Cultural Revolution Maoism

    Wednesday, 13 April 2022 | 6:00–7:30 p.m. (CET)

    Location: Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, ESA W221, Flügelbau Westen, 20146 Hamburg or online

    In the growing literature on Global Maoism and its influence during the long and global 1960s, scholars have come to recognize the centrality of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) to Maoism’s spread. However, the focus in both sinological Cultural Revolution scholarship and in studies of Maoism’s influence during the 1960s has been on what could be called the ‘Right to Rebel’ years when Red Guards held massive demonstrations, warred with each other, and tore down the existing structure of Communist Party authority. While the broad influence of this destructive phase of the Cultural Revolution on the imagination of students and revolutionaries around the world is undeniable, the constructive phase of the Cultural Revolution which followed the early, chaotic years has been largely missed.

    The efforts of the radical Maoists Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and their collaborators to articulate a new political economy of socialism which broke with past Chinese and Soviet practice were silenced with the October 1976 coup. Zhang, Yao and others were arrested and their theoretical work, the product of a collective endeavor with members of the economics department of Fudan University, was seized from the presses where it had just been published (and has remained unavailable outside very restricted party circles ever since). Despite the official silencing and repudiation of this Maoist political economy in China, the unprecedented public and collective effort that went into articulating this theory during the years before the capitalist restoration that followed Mao’s death led to the globalization of these ideas. The partial articulation of this theory in public campaigns, propaganda materials, and in conversations and meetings that foreign communists (such as the Shining Path’s Antonio Díaz Martínez and Catalina Adrianzén, among many others) visiting or working in China held with members of the radical Maoist minority of the Chinese Communist Party led to these ideas forming an anchor which grounded post-Mao global Maoism after the repudiation of Maoism in China itself. In sites as diverse as Peru, the Philippines, Nepal, and India, large Maoist communist parties drew on this late Cultural Revolution Maoist political economy as a way of answering existential questions about the communist project (and even to grow and thrive) in the context of the reversal in China and then the global defeat of Soviet-aligned countries. This lecture will discuss the articulation of these ideas in late Cultural Revolution China and the process of their globalization, while also touching on the existing literature and issues related to further research on this topic.

    Speaker: Dr. Matthew Rothwell (Independent Scholar) Moderation: Dr. Thiago Prates (Universität Hamburg)

    Video Clandestine Transcripts of Revolutionary Globalization: The Shining Paths of Late Cultural Revolution Maoism
    Video Clandestine Transcripts of Revolutionary Globalization: The Shining Paths of Late Cultural Revolution Maoism

    Exploring Elites’ Use of Friendship Narratives through the Erdoğan–Obama Relationship

    Thursday, 17 March 2022 | 2:00 p.m. (CET)

    Barack Obama’s 2009 visit to Turkey resulted in an Obama-mania in the Turkish media, followed by a friendship between Obama and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which was widely reported in the media and emphasised in their rhetoric. In this lecture, the panellists explain the Erdoğan–Obama friendship narrative by interpreting the relationship through the five key components of political friendship: affect; grand project; altruistic reciprocity; moral obligations; and equality. Our guests argue that histories, leadership styles, and political goals diverged to such an extent that an actual political friendship never existed.

    Through sentimental utility theory (SUT), the researchers illuminate the function of friendship narratives and offer insights into how collective emotions produce in-group identities and generate stability for a state’s population. SUT reveals how Erdoğan utilised the Obama-mania in Turkey to create the idea of a personal bond between Obama and himself, and a link between Obama’s progressive politics and Erdoğan’s own policies. This example can be used to show how future research might deploy SUT to make sense of other narratives of friendship and special relationships between states and between state leaders.

    Speakers: Dr. Ryan O’Connor is a Senior Lecturer in Security Studies at the Birmingham City University. Dr. Yuri van Hoef is a Lecturer in the School of History, Culture and Communication at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Moderation: Dr. Alex Waterman is a Research Fellow at the GIGA.

    Video Exploring Elites’ Use of Friendship Narratives through the Erdoğan–Obama Relationship
    Video Exploring Elites’ Use of Friendship Narratives through the Erdoğan–Obama Relationship


    Research Centre "Hamburg's (post-)colonial Legacy", Rothenbaumchausse 34, 20148 Hamburg and online

    We offer our events digitally or in hybrid setting. We monitor the current pandemic situation and act accordingly. We look forward to your participation.

    Cooperation Event | 13/06/2022 - 14/06/2022

    Networking Meeting: Crisis and Reordering

    To bring together leaders and participants of research projects of three major funding lines of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), as well as their international partners and practitioners, Universität Hamburg and the GIGA have jointly organised a networking event focused on the topic of “Crisis and Reordering.” The event takes place on 13–14 June 2022 in Hamburg and virtually.

    Research Project | 01/04/2021 - 31/03/2024

    World Order Narratives of the Global South (WONAGO)

    The decades since the late twentieth century are marked by the end of the bipolar world order and the rise of countries of the Global South. Most explanations focus on political and economic power shifts and do not pay much attention to ideas of order, especially those prevalent in the Global South. To provide a more inclusive perspective, this project researches world order narratives in Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Asia. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of its Area Studies strategy.
    BMBF, 2021-2024

    Speaker | 03/11/2021

    Guest Lecture at University Hamburg: "The Birth of the ‘Third World’: Alfred Sauvy and the Rise of a Key Global Post-War Concept"

    Dr. Eugenia Palieraki´s was our first guest at the WONAGO lecture series. The lecturer shared her research on the intellectual trajectory of French economist and demographer Alfred Sauvy, his theoretical, political and cultural repertoire, and its importance in the making of the term “Third World”, a concept that, as pointed out by Dr. Palieraki, became global through its association with a constellation of key Cold War ideas and representations.

    Dr. Eugenia Palieraki

    University of Cergy-Pontoise


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