Aviation, technology, and globalization of the Cold War

Project duration

February 2017 - January 2020


Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung

Project leaders

Dr. Peter Svik

Project Abstract

As the very title of this project “Aviation, technology, and globalization of the Cold War” indicates, the key objective of this contemporary historical project is to describe the complex and intertwined relations between the technology, globalization and the Cold War. The project approaches its subject in two parts. The first part of project pinpoints the role which the civil aviation played in the globalization of the Cold War. The project suggests that the advances in Soviet aircraft engineering throughout the 1950s triggered the evolution of the Cold War into an increasingly global conflict that gradually spread all over the world. On the other hand, since 1970s in particular, the East and West civil aviation came closer together through the adoption of common technical and safety norms. In the second part, the project enlarges its scope and zooms in on the critical nexus between the technology, Cold War and globalization—a subject heavily neglected in the current historiography of the Cold War. To overcome this gap in research, the project aims to call to Vienna a major international conference which should address the interconnections between the technology, globalization and the Cold War from various disciplinary and methodological perspectives. The conference aims to instigate new research topics and its proceedings shall be published either with the leading English university press or commercial publisher or in a special issue of a high-impact, peer-reviewed academic journal. Beyond the conference and the proceedings, there will be two other outcomes of this project: an academic monograph on East-West civil aviation during the Cold War and a theoretically oriented article concerning the relationship between the Cold War, technological standardization and globalization.  To approach its subject, this project will use a set of historical methods including archival research, printed documents and interviews. Building on my previous research in the United States, Britain, Austria and Czech Republic, an additional archival research will be carried out in the Polish and Hungarian archives as well as in the archives of the former German Democratic Republic. Such research will make possible to increase the amount of sources for an intended monograph on East-West civil aviation. Although this project addresses the problems which were only rarely addressed by historians as yet, its key ambition is to provide a new stimuli for Cold War studies while pointing out how aviation and other technologies heavily influenced both the Cold War and the rise of globalization.