Penny M. Von EschenJul 19, 2023
Paradoxes of Nostalgia
Cold War Triumphalism and Global Disorder Since 1989
Duke University Press 2022
In Paradoxes of Nostalgia: Cold War Triumphalism and Global Disorder since 1989 (Duke University Press, 2022) Dr. Penny M. Von Eschen offers a sweeping examination of the cold war’s afterlife and the lingering shadows it casts over geopolitics, journalism, and popular culture. She shows how myriad forms of nostalgia across the globe—from those that posit a mythic national past to those critical of neoliberalism that remember a time when people believed in the possibility of a collective good—indelibly shape the post-cold war era.
When Western triumphalism moved into the global South and former Eastern bloc spaces, many articulated a powerful sense of loss and a longing for stability. Innovatively bringing together diplomatic archives, museums, films, and video games, Dr. Von Eschen shows that as the United States continuously sought new enemies for its unipolar world, cold war triumphalism fueled the ascendancy of xenophobic right-wing nationalism and the embrace of authoritarian sensibilities in the United States and beyond. Ultimately, she demonstrates that triumphalist claims that capitalism and military might won the cold war distort the past and disfigure the present, undermining democratic values and institutions.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.