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Global Development Institute

Post-socialist legacies in comparative perspectives

Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War this project looked afresh at some of the lasting legacies of that period in history. It did so in focusing on individual life trajectories of people whose lives were determined by the politics of socialism and the transitions within it.

The core case study of the project centred on changing dynamics in development cooperation between Mozambique and East Germany and how those were driven by wider changes in the global political economy. Through a detailed investigation based on rich life history material, the project provided an alternative reading of Mozambique’s socialist past with important repercussions for the present, and made a significant contribution to studies of post-socialist transitions. In addition, while focusing on the concrete example of development cooperation between Mozambique and the former East Germany in the field of education, it analysed more widely dynamics of socialist cosmopolitanism and resulting patterns of identity and belonging. In doing so, the project made a significant contribution to the wider literature on post-socialist change, the de-centring of Cold War histories, and the pervasiveness of the political in everyday lives.

This project was led by Dr Tanja R. Müller. It was funded by the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI)

Key academic publications


Based on the project and the book that was one of its outputs,Tanja was invited by the German Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique, as a keynote speaker and to launch the book in Maputo (6 November 2014) and as key speaker at a cultural event in Chimoio (7 November 2014). 

Tanja was also invited as a keynote speaker by the Socialist Theory & Movements Research Network, University of Glasgow (24 February 2015) and by the International Colloquium Of Minds, Migration and Master Narratives: Reframing Labour Migrancy in Mozambique, at ReWork, Humboldt University, Berlin (20 February 2015).

The book has thus far been positively reviewed by the following journals: The Journal of Modern African Studies; African Studies Review; Peace News; and Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft.

Additional materials

Two blog posts focusing on the project.