Dr Elizabeth Banks

CSMCH-IASH Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr Elizabeth Banks

CSMCH-IASH Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow [Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History], October - December 2020 


Elizabeth (Betty) Banks is a transnational historian of the Soviet Union. Her research explores the Soviet past in a global perspective and integrates histories of Soviet actions overseas with critical transformations of the twentieth century including decolonization, globalization, technological and environmental change. She received her PhD from New York University and previously held a Max Weber postdoctoral fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence. Her co-edited collection of essays on Soviet-African entanglements in the cold war era, "An African-Soviet Modern", is forthcoming in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Project Description: 
Cold War Cod: Soviet Technology and the Politics of Fishing
In the second half of the twentieth century, new technologies transformed the global fishing industry. These technologies, which enabled fleets to fish at new depths, remain at sea for longer periods and preserve their catch while at sea, changed patterns of consumption, altered the marine environment and spurred new attempts to regulate the worlds’ oceans. Fleets – of which the Soviet fleet was largest and most productive – harvested more fish than ever before and made fish more accessible to non-elite and non-coastal communities. Soviet dominance of the revitalized industry evoked and re-cast tensions over sovereignty, political geography, access to resources and environmental decay that have long coloured humans’ interactions with the oceans. In the political configuration of the Cold War, these tensions spurred well-known conflicts and lesser-known debates by international and regional bodies over sovereign fishing rights that still determine legal and public perception of maritime space in the present day. Cold War Cod examines Soviet industrial fishing as a global history and as a multi-faceted arena of a Soviet globalization project in the cold war era that shaped legislation, spatial imagination, social and economic formations, and the environment in the USSR and across the globe.