DR ELIZABETH BANKS
ECOINT Postdoc Fellow
elizabeth.banks AT eui.eu
Dr Elizabeth Banks
I am a transnational historian of the Soviet Union and twentieth century Africa. My research has focused on socialist globalization and international socialism in the cold war era
My current research explores how Soviet and socialist economists working in UN institutions taught the west how to plan. Focusing on specific working groups, it explores how technical experts from East and West were able to plan economic life together, even as their respective economic languages at times sounded like ideology to one another. I am writing a related article centred on Marina Men’shikova, a Soviet economist hired at the UN as a Russian translator but never for her economic expertise, that reflects on the double invisibility of Soviet women in international spaces and the importance of translation as international work. Another smaller project, drawing on my training in African history, examines the practices of economic decolonization in the regional economic commission for Africa (UNECA).
Alongside these projects, I am finalizing a manuscript titled Parallel Worlds: Socialist Globalization in the Soviet Union and Mozambique, for publication. This book explores the ideological ideal of socialist solidarity was into practice by leaders, bureaucrats and ordinary citizens in Mozambique, the USSR, and the spaces in between. It shows how their everyday actions – signing treaties, building embassies, fishing, exchanging delegations, buying heavy equipment, and getting into debt – helped construct socialist pathways of globalization that intersected with existing conceptions of global and international life in complicated and unexpected ways. An article based on this research, “Sewing Machines for Socialism? Gifts of Development and Disagreement between the Soviet and Mozambican Women’s Committees, 1963–87,” appears in a special section of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East that I co-edited (issue 41.1).
Before joining ECOINT I was a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Edinburgh and a Max Weber postdoctoral fellow at the EUI. I received my PhD from New York University.