All posts by Aden Knaap

CFP: Settlement and Unsettlement: The Ends of World War I and their Legacies (German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C., March 22-24, 2018

Here’s a call for papers on the postwar (un)settlements of World War I, appropriately timed to commemorate the centenary of the 1918 armistice:

The armistice of November 11, 1918, is widely commemorated as the end of World War I, but that event was only part of a protracted process with far-reaching consequences. A series of peace treaties, starting with Brest-Litovsk in 1918 and continuing through Lausanne in 1923, brought the war to a stuttering conclusion. The 1919 Paris Peace Conference and the agreements it produced rank as the most prominent and most controversial aspect of that process. Scholarly debate has long focused on the Paris conference in the context of debates on war guilt, the burdens imposed on defeated Germany, or President Woodrow Wilson’s failure to realize his vision of a liberal world order. This focus was in line with addressing questions such as the rise of fascism, the causes of World War II, or the roots of the Great Depression. Yet the postwar settlements reached far beyond West and Central Europe. They shaped a new global order that, some hoped, would prevent another disastrous global war.

Many consequences of that reorganization are still being felt. The postwar order and the new respect paid to the right of self-determination sparked hopes and expectations while setting up the forces that would deflate them. Regardless of whether the postwar settlements led directly to the renewal of world-wide conflict in the 1930s, as many have charged, they created structures in which the later conflicts arose. A century later, participants in conflicts across the world still trace their grievances back to the pivotal period 1917–1923.

The centenary of the 1918 Armistice in 2018 provides a perfect occasion to reassess the postwar settlement’s global repercussions in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In light of the fresh scrutiny historians have recently given to the world these settlements created, the time is ripe for such a reassessment. That scrutiny commonly centers on the consequences of the Paris Peace Conference itself, the clash of different visions of an international order in full view of a newly assertive global public. The peace settlements created new forms of international organization and global governance. They spelled the end of centuries-old continental empires—the Habsburg and the Ottoman empires—and stripped Germany of its overseas colonies and important parts of its European territory. They initiated the remaking of the political landscape not only of Europe and the Middle East but also of colonized regions far from the wartime fronts, leading to forced population movements and “minority problems” of an unprecedented kind and scale. Political turmoil in Russia and parts of Central Europe brought about the specter of revolution and triggered Western military interventions in paramilitary conflicts and civil wars. International organizations, above all the League of Nations, came into existence after the war that were intent on overseeing interstates relations and creating political, economic, legal, labor, and other codes to regulate them. At the same time, a wide range of groups resisted the postwar political order and advocated alternative systems of sovereignty and sources of power.

With the Armistice, the idea of national self-determination began its global career as a pivotal principle of world order as it fed hopes of peoples around the world for an end to alien rule. The Wilsonian program inspired and mobilized people as far from the negotiations in Paris as East Asia. Enduring problems arose from the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, and challenges to colonialism evolved in response to the creation of the League of Nations’ Mandates Commission. Disappointment with the international order would fuel conflicts for decades.

Events and decisions linked to the end of World War I continue to resonate throughout the world today. The 1920 Treaty of Trianon, for instance, remains a point of reference in nationalist rhetoric in many of the successor states to the Hapsburg Empire. The refusal by the U.S. Congress to ratify the Treaty of Versailles and to approve membership in the League of Nations is still held up as the textbook example of the country’s deep-seated ambivalence about its role as a world power. The Greek-Turkish “population exchange” sanctioned by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne initiated a century of mass expulsions. The reorganization of the Middle East into several proto-nation-states sowed the seeds of regional conflicts that now, a century later, seem as firmly rooted as ever.

In view of exciting new and emerging scholarship on the legacies of World War I, the Max Weber Foundation, the German Historical Institute (GHI) in Washington DC, the American Historical Association (AHA) with the National History Center (NHC), and the German Historical Association propose to convene a conference that takes a fresh look at the events of 1917–1923, at the immediate post-Versailles period and at the cultural, social, and political ripples that the postwar settlements sent across the globe in subsequent decades. The conference seeks to reassess the global dimensions of the postwar moment and to examine both the short- and long-term consequences of the end of World War I from comparative and transregional perspectives.

Themes to be discussed at the conference include, but are not limited to:
the suite of treaties and international agreements that sought to bring the military conflicts between belligerent states to an end and their lasting consequences for the states and regions whose boundaries and relations they codified;
the regime of international organizations that were created or strengthened to oversee postwar relations between states, among them the League of Nations, its Mandate Commission, the International Labor Office, the International Red Cross, and the international court in The Hague;
the idea of national self-determination as a founding principle of the postwar world order, its reverberations and consequences in different world regions and for different population groups, and its uses by different groups of actors;
the postwar expansion and transformation of imperial rule by the victorious powers and the struggle against that rule by subject peoples;
the plans for social and economic postwar order and responses to expectations of disadvantaged and disempowered social groups: demobilization and demilitarization, postwar economic order, gender order, etc.

The conference will take place from March 22-24, 2018 in Washington, DC, at the German Historical Institute. The conference language is English. The organizers will cover travel and lodging expenses.

To apply, send a short abstract of no more than 400 words and a brief academic CV with institutional affiliation in one file by March 31, 2017 to hudson@ghi-dc.org. For more more information, see the conference website (https://www.ghi-dc.org/events-conferences/event-history/2018/conferences/settlement-and-unsettlement-the-ends-of-world-war-i-and-their-legacies.html?L=0).

CFP: Institutions and International Law in Eastern Europe (Leipzig, September 28-29, 2017)

For readers interested in the history of international law and international institutions, here’s a call for papers with a particular focus on Eastern Europe:

International law is enjoying increasing popularity among historians of global and international affairs, due to a re-reading of legal norms and rules that questions a state-centered approach. Instead of seeing law as an outcome of state behavior, recent scholarship has examined the transnational character of law and legal communities, and the oftentimes complex negotiation processes that precede the codification and subsequent ratification of international conventions. This perspective aligns with the focus on border-crossing relations and on professional and nonstate actors and institutions that has become essential to global and international history. Moreover, connections forged between the history of international law and discussions of the limits of legal universalism have increased the legal dimension’s relevance for historians of empire and decolonization. Encircling notions of hegemony, imperialism, and civilization, and scrutinizing the role of international law in imperial and civilizing missions, this strand of research has given rise to regional histories of international law.

Scholars have begun to explore the relationship between legal and regional developments by asking how international law has been tailored to serve specific regional interests, problems, or conflicts. This approach complements the focus on the law’s imperial bias and acknowledges the entanglement of legal and political agendas while also emphasizing the agency of regional actors. It also concedes that regional appropriations of international law could serve these actors’ own agendas or be a vehicle for emancipation.

The workshop unites research on the history of international law with studies on Eastern Europe to investigate the controversial role of international law in the complex and contentious reordering of the region since the Congress of Vienna. The workshop proposes that the extraordinary density of political, social and ethnic conflicts and the decades-long struggles over territorial boundaries in Eastern Europe have left clear traces in international law. More specifically, the workshop addresses these issues through the lens of international institutions, which offer a starting point from which to identify topics; single out involved states, groups, and transnational actors from East Central and Eastern Europe; and reveal how regional constellations were universalized in the process of negotiating and implementing international norms and rules.

The workshop stems from a research project at the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) that deals with processes of juridification in international relations. The project advances the argument that the history of conflict in Eastern Europe has shaped modern international law to a significant degree. This contention holds for the results of the Crimean War (1854–1856) and the regulations formulated by the Congress of Berlin (1878), as well as for minority protections after World War I and the status of the Free City of Danzig, to mention a few examples. The main output of the research group will be “Law and History in Eastern Europe,” a three-part handbook to be published by de Gruyter in 2020. The handbook’s second part seeks to illuminate the relationship between law and international institutions from an Eastern Europe perspective. To this end, workshop participants might contribute chapters to the handbook.
The workshop welcomes contributions that cover the 19th and 20th centuries. Papers should focus either on legal issues in international institutions in Eastern Europe, or on the representation of Eastern Europeans in international institutions concerned with international law. Regarding subject matter, we invite papers presenting case studies from within the region that also connect to the wider topic of the legal transformation of international relations. Inter-regional comparisons are particularly welcome.

Participants are asked to submit their papers no later than two weeks before the start of the workshop. The workshop will be held on 28 and 29 September 2017 at the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) in Leipzig, Germany. Travel and accommodation costs will be covered.

Proposals (max. 750 words) and a short CV should be sent by 10 March 2017 to Isabella.loehr@leibniz-gwzo.de.

CFP: Fascism and the International: The Global Order Today and Tomorrow (Mexico City, June 18-20, 2017)

For readers interested in the international dimensions of fascism, here’s an exciting (and topical) call for applications for an interdisciplinary workshop  to be held at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City:

Paper proposals for this workshop on the international dimensions of fascism are warmly invited from scholars, artists and activists working in and across the fields of international law, history, history of art, international relations, postcolonial studies, sociology, anthropology, political theory, geography, feminist studies, queer theory and critical race theory.

In light of the recent and very rapid re-centring of fascist discourse and iconography across the world, the workshop aims to take fascism and its concept of the international seriously as distinctive, perhaps even inevitable consequences of the unification of ‘the world’ as such since 1492.

While the workshop leans towards the field of international law, its character is strongly interdisciplinary. Interventions (including textual, visual and aural interventions) from individuals and groups working in all disciplines are welcome.

We are delighted to say that the workshop is being hosted by the Museo de Arte Moderno (MAM) in Mexico City. The MAM, itself a landmark in modernist architecture, is home to one of the most important collections of anti-fascist art in Latin America. An introduction to and tour of this collection will be included in the workshop’s activities.

The topics we expect to be investigating include (but are by no means limited to):
** The international dimensions of neo-fascist groups like Golden Dawn and the ‘Alt-Right’, together with their historical connections to(and disconnections from) inter-war fascist movements;
** The innovations made by fascist international lawyers and theorists of the international in the1920s and 1930s in Italy, Japan, France, Germany, Argentina and elsewhere;
** The relationship between decolonisation, fascism and anti-colonial theory in Indonesia,Martinique, Ethiopia and elsewhere in the Third World;
** The political economy of fascism;
** The influence of fascist ideas and practices on post-War dictatorships, both in the Third World and in the West;
** The fascist and anti-fascist history of everyday concepts such as environmentalism,motherhood, freedom, space and accumulation;
** The relationship between fascism/anti-fascism and Futurism, Dada, Surrealism and other art movements both during the inter-war period and today.

Abstracts should be sent to the workshop’s organiser, Rose Sydney Parfitt (Melbourne Law School/Kent Law School), at rose.parfitt@unimelb.edu.au no later than 1 March 2017. The organizers of the conference note that spaces are “very limited,” so apply soon! For more information, see the workshop Facebook page.