Making the Pilgrimage to the “Mecca of Revolution”: A Conversation with Jeffrey James Byrne on Algerian Internationalism and the Third World

Revolution, what revolution? In the spring of 2011, protests and revolutions rocked much of North Africa and the Middle East. Improbably, the immolation of a Tunisian fruit vendor triggered the collapse of regimes not only in Tunis but also in Cairo, the heart of the Arab World. Whether the cause was Twitter or deeper-seated socioeconomic dysfunction, protests cascaded throughout the region, leading to regime collapse in Sana’a, a civil war and eventual regime overthrow in Tripoli, and Armageddon in Syria.

Against this gruesome background, Algeria—Africa’s largest country since the partition of Sudan in 2011—remained relatively calm. Anti-regime protests forced an end to a state of emergency that had existed since 1992. But President Abdelaziz Bouteflika not only stayed in power but managed to establish, in 2012, a record as the longest-serving head of state in Algerian history. The stability was all the more surprising given that Algeria had descended into civil war in 1991 once the ruling FLN (from the French Front de Libération Nationale) effectively cancelled elections that would have delivered Islamist parties to power.

Yet Algeria’s position as a stable authoritarian regime in a region rocked by the mutual learning processes of one “Arab Street” from the other is ironic, since, as University of British Columbia historian Jeffrey Byrne shows in his recent book, Mecca of Revolution: Algeria, Decolonization & The Third World Order, the country’s identity was from its founding deeply tied up with its identity as a “pilot state” for anti-colonial revolution. After all, Algeria gained its independence from France in the first place through combination of guerrilla warfare against the French military and the deft diplomacy of twenty- and thirty-something diplomats-cum-revolutionaries operating between Peking, Moscow, and the United Nations. From 1962–1965, when revolutionary Ahmed Ben Bella served as President of the young republic, Algiers was on the itinerary of every self-respecting revolutionary group out there, from Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress to Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization to European Trotskyists. No less than Frantz Fanon, the Martinique-born Afro-Caribbean intellectual who was the psychologist of colonization and decolonization par excellence, used Algeria as the basis for his works like The Wretched of the Earth.

Mecca of Revolution cover

What happened? How did an avowedly revolutionary state and champion of Third World solidarity become one of the Arab World’s most entrenched authoritarian regimes post-2011—all the while never officially disavowing its revolutionary credentials? In Mecca of Revolution, Byrne argues that the trajectory of the Algerian cause was symptomatic of bigger shifts within the Third World more broadly. Originally, he explains, anti-colonial movements like the FLN were forced by virtue of their colonial oppressors to operate within an “open” international society of liberation movements liaising with one another, as well as their (often stubborn) patrons in Peking, Cairo, and Moscow.

Paradoxically, however, once these movements gained power through the vehicle of the post-colonial nation-state, they turned toward a “closed” vision of international society centered around states, not transnational movements like the FLN, ANC, or PLO. Even the post-colonial or anti-colonial forms of internationalism that self-proclaimed revolutionary states embraced, moreover, like the Organization for African Unity or the G-77, took the nation-state for granted as the default form of political organization. Byrne’s, in short, is a rich and demanding story constructed on the basis of painstaking work in Algerian, Yugoslav, and European and American archives. The Toynbee Prize Foundation’s Executive Director Timothy Nunan recently sat down with Professor Byrne to discuss it, beginning with Byrne’s own personal journey to writing Mecca of Revolution. Continue reading

Two Soviet built, Iraqi-modified Scud B missiles and their launchers are on display.

Workshop: “Transnational Relations Between Eastern Europe/Russia-USSR and The Middle East, Late 19th Century to 1991” (Princeton University, US, February 10-11, 2017)

Here’s an recent call for papers for a wokshop on transnational history taking place at Princeton University (US), on February 10-11, 2017 entitled “Transnational relations between Eastern Europe/Russia-USSR and the Middle East, late 19th century to 1991.” The program has been organized by the Université de Genève and Princeton University partnership grant co-directed by Sandrine Kott (University of Geneva) and Cyrus Schayegh (Princeton University). The call for papers explains more about the workshop’s ambit:

Histories of Eastern Europe [EE]/Russia – Middle East [ME] transnational relations form a relative lacuna in the scholarship on both regions; most extant work centers on Russia/USSR, and/or the Cold War, and/or state actors; and few scholars of various subfields are in conversation. Moreover, such relations are a useful laboratory to explore conceptual questions for studying transnational history.

A principal reason concerns space.

This is the case, centrally, because EE/Russia-USSR and the ME are, broadly speaking, neighbors. To be sure, especially in the globally interconnected modern period geographical distance is not directly correlated with sociopolitical distance. Even so, proximity still matters in some ways and some fields – doubly because crucial pre-World War I imperial realities complicated it in fascinating ways.

We may ask: (How) has the fact that both bits of Eastern Europe and of the Middle East were Ottoman mattered even after the late 19th century? What about the modern echoes and effects of long-standing Russian interest in, and contacts with, ‘the Middle East’ (think as far back as early medieval Russophone Scandinavian visits to Constantinople and, more famously, of Moscow as ‘the Third Rome’ after Constantinople’s fall)? Do twentieth-century transnational ties take on (a) particular form(s) and meaning(s) in such historically deeply grounded ‘neighborly’ realities?

Related, could parallel, linked, or overlapping EE/Russian-Soviet-ME trajectories allow new interpretations of modern developments that touched both (bits of) EE/ Russia-USSR and of the ME? Think, for example, of the non-aligned movement of the 1950s/60s – could one see its (south) EE members (Yugoslavia) and ME members as (re)-creating a Eastern Mediterranean space?

Lastly, and to add one more layer: (how) does it matter that in some sense both the terms ‘Eastern Europe’ and ‘the Middle East’ – though not their complex reality tout court – were constructed relative to one and the same third region, (Western) Europe? Could one see them, jointly, as a double – or even linked up – periphery? What would such a view mean, both from the linked ME/EE-Russian-Soviet and from Western European perspectives? What is certain is that for the latter, the two were and continue to be both close and – only seemingly a paradox – an ‘other:’ Eastern Europe/Russia and the Middle East were two of the “three borders … identified” during Europe’s cultural construction (Bo Stråth, “Insiders and Outsiders,” in Stefan Berger, Companion to 19th-Century Europe, 4]).

We are interested in applications that have a firm empirical grounding and make a clear conceptual contribution, taking into questions of space such as those outlined above. Historians, as well as other scholars in the humanities, are encouraged to apply.

If you are interested in contributing, then consider applying. A paper title, an abstract of max. 300 words, and a brief CV may be send to Cyrus Schayegh (Princeton University) The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2016.


Tenure-Track Position, Business, Government, and the International Economy Unit, Harvard Business School

For those global historians looking for an academic position in history that allows them to enter conversations with a wider range of interlocutors than the average history department, here is a recent call for applications for a tenure-track position at Harvard Business School (incidentally also the home of one of our interviewees for the Global History Forum, Jeremy Friedman).

The call for applications explains more:

Harvard Business School is seeking candidates with a Ph.D. in history for a tenure-track position in the Business, Government, and the International Economy (BGIE) unit.  We are especially looking for candidates whose historical research focuses on one or more of the following areas: history of capitalism, public policy, democratic governance, economic development, and/or political economy – preferably in the nineteenth or twentieth century.  Policy areas that are of particular interest include regulation, macroeconomic policy, education policy, environmental policy, social welfare policy, national security, infrastructure, energy, international commerce, and innovation.  Candidates may come directly from Ph.D. programs or from the faculties of other universities.  The appointment will begin on July 1, 2017.


All applicants should have excellent academic credentials and a demonstrated potential for conducting outstanding research.  The School is particularly interested in applicants with interdisciplinary interests and a strong record of, or potential for, excellence in teaching.    Successful candidates will, at the outset, teach a required first-year MBA course on the economic, political, and social environment of business.  Starting salaries will be highly competitive.

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

In order to apply, candidates should use the application form accessible from this website. Complete applications, notes the call, will include “curriculum vitae, description of research-in-progress, published articles or working papers, dissertation chapters or other writing samples, statement of teaching interests and, if applicable, teaching evaluations. In addition, three letters of recommendation are required, which should be submitted online directly to the School by the referees.” Applications are due no later than November 7, 2016.



Staff Associate, Big Data Management / Program Coordination / Data Mining , Employment | AHA

For readers of the Global History Blog interested in a staff position on a project at the intersection of digital humanities and international history, consider this recent job posting at Columbia University:

The Department of History at Columbia University invites applications for a Staff Associate position for a digital humanities project involving research using a database of declassified documents related to US Foreign Policy made accessible through the history-lab website beginning September 5, 2016. The candidate should have knowledge of coding and databases, which is a central component of this research project. They should also have expertise in social science research on modern world politics. Working under the direction of the principal investigator, the successful candidate will manage technical resources, support student users, assist in grant submission preparations, and contribute to research projects using History Lab data that demonstrate the potential of digital humanities and computational social science.

If interested in applying, please use Columbia’s application system, RAPS – the specific position application is available here. Complete applications will include a cover letter, C.V., statement of research, two letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. Questions about the position may be directed either to the Principle Investigator, Professor Matthew Connelly, at, or Najila Naderi (for the application process) at

Applications are due September 5, 2016.


Fellowships, International Research Center “Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History,” Humboldt University Berlin

For scholars working on labor history, broadly conceived, or related fields with a global history bent, here’s a terrific opportunity for the 2017-2018 academic year in Germany. As a recent call for applications notes:

The International Research Center “Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History” at Humboldt University in Berlin, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) invites scholars to apply for international research fellowships (senior scholars and postdoctoral candidates) for the 2017-2018 academic year. Eight to twelve fellowships will be awarded. 

We welcome candidates from various disciplines including history, anthropology, law, sociology, political sciences, geography, economics, and area studies. Applicants should be at the postdoctoral level or senior scholars.

We would like the proposed projects to employ a historical and transregional perspective. Applications should ideally focus on work / labour in relation to changing patterns of life course. Possible topic areas are, among others, the household, loss of work, the relationship between work and non-work, work and gender, free and unfree labour.

We welcome proposals about all regions of the world and especially those that look at comparisons, conflicts, relations between different regions. A global history perspective is not required; keeping an open mind to such ideas, however, is highly desirable.

The fellowships will begin on 1 October 2017 and end on 31 July 2018. Shorter fellowship terms will be possible.

Fellows will receive a monthly stipend to be determined. This is a residential fellowship. Fellows are obliged to work at the research center in Berlin. A fully equipped office will be provided as well as organizational help for visa, housing, etc. During the fellowship, we also encourage fellows to introduce their work to wider audiences within Berlin’s scientific community.

For those interested, applications can be sent via this electronic form (also accessible via this link) no later than September 15, 2016. Once within the application, notes the call, “you will be asked to provide information regarding your biography, the research project you intend to work on during your fellowship as well as details on your current research. Applicants should provide the names of two referees in addition to that.”

Only electronic applications can be accepted.


“OPEC and the Global Energy Order” (Conference, NYU Abu Dhabi, April 17-19, 2017)

For scholars of international energy regimes, here’s a recent call for papers for what looks like a terrific conference on the history of OPEC and energy more broadly – taking place, fittingly, in the OPEC member state of the United Arab Emirates at NYU Abu Dhabi this coming April 17-19, 2017.

Here’s a further explanation:

Crude oil was a crucial natural resource for the industrial development of the last century and contributed to the rise of a new era that is now been called the Anthropocene. The history of the largest petroleum exporters is thus deeply intertwined with the evolution of the global political economy of the 20th century, with environmental changes and with shifting ideas about the management of natural resources.

We are especially interested in the social, cultural, institutional and political connections among the oil producing states in an historical perspective, with a focus on their international cooperation in OPEC.

The main themes (and some possible specific questions) that we hope to address include:

OPEC and the Making of Oil Policy

  • OPEC members’ shared identity as oil exporters has fostered contacts between them, even though they are separated by different languages, cultures and religions. Who were the protagonists of these contacts, and what kind of practical impact, if any, did they have on the policies of individual OPEC members?
  • Associated with the emergence of OPEC, how Resource Nationalism refashioned the political culture in OPEC member countries.
  • Has OPEC been able to coordinate oil policy when its member states are at odds with each other, and if so, how?
  • Within the member states, how is authority over oil policy divided among rulers and prime ministers, ministers of Petroleum, officials in charge of economic policy, and national oil companies?
  • In writing the history of OPEC, is there any room for an approach from below? What sort of influence is exercised by actors in OPEC countries outside the realm of high politics, such as labor and environmentalist movements, religious institutions, and intellectuals?
  • How has OPEC’s strategy changed over time? What were the main decisions of OPEC and were they mainly driven by politics or by economics?
  • Who were the most influential members of OPEC at different times? How did internal alliances change overtime?

Continue reading


CONFERENCE CFP: “Society, Culture and Morality: East and West” (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, December 27-29, 2016)

The Institute of Cross Cultural Studies and Academic Exchange, Society for Indian Philosophy and Religion, based in Elon, North Carolina, USA, (ICCSA) is pleased to announce a conference titled “Society, Culture and Morality: East and West” to be held at the  Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India on December 27-29, 2016. The conference’s topics include the following:

  • Society and Media
  • Society and Women Empowerment
  • Language and Cultural Identity
  • E-Culture
  • Sociology of Culture
  • Semiotics of Culture
  • Cultural Relativism
  • Culture and Ethnology
  • Cultural Diplomacy
  • Folk Culture
  • Material Culture
  • Culture of War
  • Transfer of Culture
  • Culture War
  • Morality: Nature or Culture
  • Culture and Morals
  • Culture and Global Ethics
  • Theology of Culture

Interested in applying? Abstracts for the paper should be 150 words need to be send to no later than August 15, 2016.

The organizers note that “acceptance of proposal will be mailed within 2 weeks or earlier to participants.” For more information, please consult this website.


Adjunct Lecturer & Adjunct Assistant Professor Position (Brooklyn College, New York)

For those readers of the Global History Blog looking for employment options in New York, here’s a recent posting that might be of interest. Brooklyn College has announced applications for an Adjunct Lecturer or Adjunct Assistant Professor position of Modern World History.  As a recent call for applications explains,

The Department of History at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York invites applications for an Adjunct Lecturer or Adjunct Assistant Professor position beginning Fall 2016. The class begins August 25, 2016.

The course is Shaping of the Modern World, 1500-present. Instructors with experience in teaching modern global history are preferred. Several sections may be available.


For Adjunct Assistant Professor:

Ph.D. degree in history and the ability to teach successfully.

 For Adjunct Lecturer:

MA in history and the ability to teach successfully. 


Commensurate with experience and credentials. All appointments are submit to financial availability. 

CUNY offers faculty a competitive compensation and benefits package covering health insurance, pension and retirement benefits, paid parental leave, and savings programs.  We also provide mentoring and support for research, scholarship, and publication as part of our commitment to ongoing faculty professional development.

Interested? In order to apply, you should submit your aplication online consisting of  an application letter indicating the desired position, a current curriculum vitae, and contact information for three references in .doc, .pdf or .rtf format no later than August 21, 2016. Good luck!

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, accompanied by Gen. Omar N. Bradley, and Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., inspects art treasures stolen by Germans and hildden in salt mine in Germany.  April 12, 1945.  Lt. Moore.  (Army)
NARA FILE #:  111-SC-204516

CFP: “From Refugees to Restitution: The History of Nazi Looted Art in the UK in Transnational and Global Perspective” (Newnham College, UK, March 23-24, 2017)

For those followers of the Toynbee Prize Foundation’ Global History Blog interested in the history of art, here’s recent announcement for a conference entitled “From Refugees to Restitution: The History of Nazi Looted Art in the UK in Transnational and Global Perspective” that looks of interest, to be held on March 23-24, 2017 at Newnham College (Cambridge).

The call for papers explains more:

In recent years, the subject of looted art and the restitution of cultural property has come to the fore of historical enquiry and public consciousness alike. While popular recollections of this politically sensitive subject often display a certain lack of historical accuracy, a growing number of historians, art historians and legal scholars have devoted their energy to investigating the nuances and complexities of the phenomenon across time and space. Parallel to this, experts based at local, national and international institutions such as ministries, museums, auction houses, archives, galleries or even private collectors have started adopting measures designed to prompt the art world to adopt fair practices for identifying, recovering and restituting looted art. The field, however, remains rather compartmentalized along national, institutional and professional lines and still displays a marked tendency to focus on specific cases or collections. Instead much could be gained by studying the phenomenon in a broader comparative perspective and by exploring the tangible links to some of the central themes of 20th-century history: revolution, persecution, displacement, war, migration and genocide.

The aim of this conference is to identify and address the historical continuities and specificities of the history of looted art and restitution in the overlapping contexts of 20th- and 21st-century British, European and World history as well as to assess its scope and relevance in light of present-day good practices and restitution policies in place in the UK and beyond. We seek contributions investigating the history of Nazi looted art and its restitution in order to gain a deeper understanding of these processes as political and cultural practices as well as to assess and foster the development of fair practices in art trade and restitution in transnational and global perspective. Continue reading

Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship: InterAsian Contexts and Connections | Social Science Research Council (SSRC) | Brooklyn, NY, USA

Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship: InterAsian Contexts and Connections

For readers engaged in projects spanning multiple regions, here are two terrific opportunities, namely the SSRC’S Transregional Junior Scholar Fellowship and a new program, the SSRC Global Summer Semester Residency at the University of Göttingen. A recent announcement explains:

The Social Science Research Council Transregional Research Program aims at promoting excellence in transregional research and interrogating boundaries that have long divided world geographies and academic communities.

In 2016, the SSRC will offer two separate fellowship competitions as part of its Transregional Research Program:

  • The first, the Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship: InterAsian Contexts and Connections, builds upon the SSRC’s current transregional grants program through which more than 50 individual fellowships totaling nearly $2 million have been awarded. These longer-term fellowships are designed to support junior scholars as they work on first or second projects and to be disbursed flexibly over a sixteen-month period. Fellows can be affiliated anywhere, need not be full-time employed, and can use the funds for research or writing. Fellowship amounts will vary based on the proposed research activities, timeline, and location, and awards will be granted of $20,000–$45,000.

  • The second, the SSRC Global Summer Semester Residency at the University of Göttingen, is a new short-term fellowship opportunity offered in collaboration with the CETREN Transregional Research Network at the University of Göttingen in Germany, an InterAsia partner institution, or hub. These three-month residencies will take place during the 2017 summer semester at the University of Göttingen, which runs from April 15, 2017–July 15, 2017. These residencies are designed to support a small cohort of scholars who are working on projects that reflect the existing research expertise at the University of Göttingen and build upon CETREN’s research themes: Movements of Knowledge, Media, Migration, and the Moving Political, and Religious Networks. Recipients will receive 2,500 €/month for three months and one round-trip economy class plane ticket to Göttingen.

The SSRC’s website provides much more exhaustive information on the programs, applications for both of which are due on September 19, 2016.