After the Cold War

The year 1989 signalled the end of the Cold War that had bound the USA and the Soviet Union in a
competitive embrace. With the collapse of the Soviet Union the intellectual and political frameworks
that had sustained Cold war conflict lost salience,
however, important residues of that era continued to permeate global discourse. Just as the reach of Cold
War politics had extended far beyond the realms of the USA and the USSR, the consequences of the end of
that conflict similarly affected a range of political and cultural fields in many diverse locations.
This project will examine the ways in which the end of the Cold War affected a number of countries: Chile,
France, Indonesia, and Spain, whose political, ethical and intellectual systems were predicated on Cold War
polarities. Using a comparative lens, we will investigate on what grounds, by what means, through what
media and to what effect, these key sites on the ‘front line’ of the Cold War, have sought since 1989 to
reconceptualise their pasts and re-evaluate critical events and individuals. Our focus is less on the content
of the judgments than on the instruments that have been developed: the judicial, political, intellectual,
linguistic, forensic and discursive tools deployed to re-interpret and judge the past in the aftermath of the
Cold War. We will address the diversity of the practices that engage with the past: judicial processes
(national and international judicial proceedings; truth and reconciliation commissions), forensic
identifications (bodily retrievals), memorial diplomacy and practice (changing forms of commemoration;
the inauguration of new national days; memorials; honours); the development of new discourses and
vocabularies. Our aim is thus to identify the processes and practices deployed in re-evaluation of the recent
past and to assess whether commonalities have emerged across the nations studied. We will ask whether
such re-conceptualisation has produced new frameworks that are not driven by Cold War assumptions and
discourses, or whether the new global discourses are still constrained by the residues of Cold War
mentalities.