CFP: Fighters in a Foreign Conflict, 1848-1999 (Paris, June 2018)

With increasing attention being paid to the role of foreign volunteer fighters in recent armed conflicts around the world – whether fighting alongside Kurdish peshmerga or the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Ukrainian forces in the Donbass, or the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan – the Center for History at Sciences Po proposes to…

CFP: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the Challenge of a New World Order (Paris, June 2019)

A century ago today, the end of the carnage unfolding between the trenches of the Western Front of the First World War was scarcely imaginable. But so momentous were the consequences for subsequent world history of the eventual end of the conflict – the Versailles and other treaties that emerged from the Paris Peace Conference, and the movements that sought to influence them – that organizers are already mobilizing for a “major international conference” on the subject in the very city where the post-WWI order was shaped in 1919.

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The Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, among the main sites of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 / Image: paristoversailles.org

To be convened under the aegis of the Institut historique allemand (IHA)/Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris (DHIP), LABEX EHNE, and the Commission d’histoire des relations internationales/Commission for the History of International Relations, “[t]he purpose of this event is to re-examine the history of the Peace Conference through a thematic focus on the different approaches to order in world politics in the aftermath of the First World War.” The organizers further specify:

City of Light, City of Revolution:  Walking the Streets of Anti-Imperial Paris with Michael Goebel

Paris, nous t’aimons! For centuries, foreigners have come to Paris with the expectation of reinventing themselves, finding inspiration on the Left Bank, or simply being bowled over by what was–once if not now–the European cultural capital par excellence. For decades after American writer Ernest Hemingway spent a much-mythologized few years in the French capital, wannabe writers would frequently waste a few years moving from café to café along the Seine in hopes of making their prose more like that of Hemingway’s, or indeed other writers from the Lost Generation. Today, as a burgeoning East Asian middle class seeks to explore the City of Lights, the institution of the stay in Paris has taken on new dimensions, as Japanese and Chinese tourists reportedly suffer from “Paris Syndrome,” whereby an exaggerated, romanticized view of the French metropole quickly gives way to the reality of cigarette butts, push Parisiens on the Metro, and–in lieu of Maxim’s–the encroachment of le Big Mac onto the French diet, if not also waistline.

Michael Goebel's "Anti-Imperial Metropolis: Interwar Paris and the Seeds of Third World Nationalism"

Michael Goebel’s “Anti-Imperial Metropolis: Interwar Paris and the Seeds of Third World Nationalism”

Paris, in short, defiantly challenges the stereotypes that both travelers East and West so readily project upon it. But as the work of Michael Goebel, Professor of Global and Latin American History at the Freie Universität Berlin and the latest guest to the Global History Forum, shows, scraping off the romantic stereotypes attached like barnacles to the banks of the Seine might make not only for a more realistic engagement with what remains a great city, but also with the history of the emergence of the “Third World.” For as Goebel shows in his new book, Anti-Imperial Metropolis: Interwar Paris and the Seeds of Third World Nationalism, Paris has long played host to a rather different cast of characters than the romantic writers of the 1920s, or the stick-figure models imagined to inhabit the city by so many Asian tourists. More compellingly, during the 1920s and 1930s, Paris played host to an astounding array of intellectuals who would go on to lead national liberation and Communist movements around the Global South in the decades to come. Some of them, like Ho Chi Minh, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping, are familiar to almost everyone; others, like George Padmore, César Vallejo, and Messali Hadj, perhaps less so, even if they, too, played a fundamental role in the making of African, Peruvian, and Algerian history. During the interwar years, Goebel shows in his tightly argued book, published by the Global and International History Series of Cambridge University Press this fall, Paris became a crucial incubator for different models of anti-colonial confrontation that would reshape the world in decades to come.

Recently, Goebel made a visit to Harvard University to present his work at the Harvard International and Global History Seminar. Before the talk, Toynbee Prize Foundation Executive Director (and fellow author in the International and Global History Series that Anti-Imperial Metropolis appears in) Timothy Nunan sat down with him to discuss the making of the book and his future plans as he seeks to integrate not only the history of metropole and colony, but also–as we find out in the conversation–of social and intellectual history.…