Time and Space in the History of Globalism: An Interview with Or Rosenboim

Or Rosenboim, Lecturer in Modern History at City, University of London

In December 1945, a group of intellectuals and academics met in Chicago to devise a world constitution. Just a few months earlier, the United States had dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the words of the group’s convenor, global control over nuclear weaponry was imperative to prevent “world suicide.” Over the course of the next two years, the group met monthly to hash out a plan for world government. But when the results of their deliberations were published as a world constitution in 1948, it was greeted mostly with skepticism and derision. Since the project had begun in 1945, the world had moved on—the bipolarity of the early Cold War had narrowed the possibilities for world cooperation and a whole new set of international institutions (most notably, the United Nations) had been created.

And yet, as Or Rosenboim makes clear in her new book, The Emergence of Globalism: Visions of World Order in Britain and the United States, 1939–1950 (Princeton University Press, 2017), the Chicago world constitutionalists remain relevant to how we talk about global governance today. What’s more, they represent one episode in a crowded history of conceptions of world order in the 1940s.