Liberal-(Il)liberal-Internationalisms: New Paradigms for the History of the Twentieth Century (Vienna, December 2016)

Regular followers of the Toynbee Prize Foundation’s Global History Forum feature will recall one of our interviews with the Australian historian of modern Russia and the Soviet Union Philippa Hetherington, whose work touches on the history of sex trafficking and the inflection of themes of gender with international history. Fortunately for readers of our blog, Hetherington (University College London) and three other scholars of international history – Glenda Sluga (Sydney), Peter Becker (Vienna), and Natasha Wheatley (Sydney) – have teamed up to organize what looks like a fascinating conference to take place in Vienna, Austria, in December 2016, titled Liberal-(Il)liberal-Internationalisms: New Paradigms for the History of the Twentieth Century.”

As the call for papers explains,

in the first decades of the twenty-rst century, scholars of internationalisms are opening up new areas of historical research, probing older stories of imperial and national pasts, reconnecting state and non-state actors and institutions, and moving historical narratives past the simple identication of internationalism as communist or socialist. At the same time, new histories of ‘liberal’ internationalisms are often cordoned off from socialist and other non-liberal internationalisms, occluding the overlapping and interconnected nature of political approaches to the international in the twentieth century.This workshop will probe the ideological complexities at the core of these twentieth century histories. It will decentre the specically liberal and illiberal  ascriptions of internationalisms, in order to ask:

  • Where do the boundaries between these internationalisms lie
  • How do we engage the normativity of these fields? 
  • What can comparisons between different internationalisms tell us about ‘the international’ as a field of political action that defied traditional political boundaries in the twentieth century?
  • How have historians mobilised terms such as liberal and illiberal in relation to internationalism and is it possible (or necessary) to move beyond them?
Ultimately, we anticipate the workshop will encourage the problematization and even breaking down of the binaries that currently frame the study of internationalisms. We are interested in a variety of approaches to the conference theme, including intellectual, social, cultural and institutional methodologies. We are inviting papers that focus on the political content of internationalisms, the intersecting histories of liberal, socialist and other non-liberal internationalisms, and the connections between the institutions and ideologies of twentieth century internationalisms. Papers that cover geographical areas beyond Europe, as well as the diversity of experiences within East and West Europe are particularly welcome.
The conference, which is scheduled to take place on December 8-9, 2016 sounds in short like a terrific opportunity. If you are interested in contributing (with a view toward the conference papers forming part of an edited volume), then consider applying. Abstracts of 300-600 words and a brief CV or biography may be send to Birgit Aubrunne( and Martin King ( no later than Thursday, 31 March, 2016.

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