The Cold War and the End Times: Apocalyptic and Millenarian Themes in Politics, Society and Culture, 1946-1989.
This event took place online on 4th June 2020. Following the event, contributors were invited to provide brief videos/podcasts summarising their papers, these are available below.
In the 1970s Ronald Reagan is reported to have told Sen. James Mills that “everything is in place for the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ” and that “Ezekiel says that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of God’s people. That must mean that they will be destroyed by nuclear weapons” (1985, San Diego Magazine). Reagan’s views echoed a widespread and religiously inflected Cold War grammar in the West – what has come to be known as the “religious Cold War” (see Dianne Kirby 2013 in Oxford Handbook of the Cold War; Andrew Preston 2012 in Religion and the Cold War). Despite de facto state atheism, Cold War discourse took on a religious tenor in the Soviet Union as well. For example, Miriam Dobson has recently described a state-sanctioned Soviet peace movement which sought to co-opt religious groups within the Soviet Union, and which found itself in tension with an emerging popular apocalypticism (2018, Journal of Contemporary History 53(2)). Alongside these more explicit articulations, apocalyptic and millenarian themes can also be discerned in implicit or covert ways in wider domains: presentations of technology and the space race, perceptions of Marxism, the evolution of architectural and design aesthetics, etc. As scholarship extends understanding of the complex interaction of religious thinking and the Cold War, this one-day virtual symposium – The Cold War and The End Times: Apocalyptic and Millenarian Themes in Politics, Society and Culture, 1946-1989 – brings a particular focus to apocalyptic and millenarian aspects of these discourses during the period between Churchill’s coining of the “Iron Curtain” and the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is intended that a broad definition of apocalyptic and millenarian frameworks, including secular formulations which implicitly draw on or encode religious or supernatural themes alongside discourses which are understood in conventional religious terms, should be applied.
The full timetable and abstracts (pdf) are available here.
The original call for papers (pdf) is available here.