International world order

Featured Interviews

The Institution of International Order: An Interview with Simon Jackson and Alanna O'Malley
Interviews | October 16, 2019

The Institution of International Order: An Interview with Simon Jackson and Alanna O'Malley

With some people becoming increasingly concerned about the attacks on the liberal international order and others questioning whether such a thing actually exists or has ever existed, the publication of The Institution of International Order: from the League of Nations to the United Nations in 2018 is a timely and welcome intervention. This edited volume sheds light on the historical dimensions of internationalism, by examining the League of Nations and the United Nations (UN) from the 1920s to the 1970s. Not only does it connect scholarship historicizing internationalism, but it also explicitly decenters the history of internationalism by bringing in people, organizations, and places not generally associated with the levers of international order.

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Hesitant Hegemony for China and the US? An Interview with Lixin Wang
Interviews | December 6, 2017

Hesitant Hegemony for China and the US? An Interview with Lixin Wang

Speculation is mounting that the United States, with Donald Trump cast in the role of president, will step back from the world stage, and China will increasingly lead. But what would China face if it decided to assume international leadership and advance its own ideas and agendas for global order? Drawing lessons from the American experience, Prof. Lixin Wang's new book A Hesitant Hegemony (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2015) indicates that China should not hastily seek world leadership and that the burden of leading the world is too heavy for China to bear. In the book, Lixin Wang incorporated both a cultural perspective and an international history approach to examine American identity and its search for international order in the first half of the twentieth century.

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Time and Space in the History of Globalism: An Interview with Or Rosenboim
Interviews | November 30, 2017

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

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. This interview ranges from questions of temporality and spatiality to global intellectual histories of "minor thinkers" and the importance of the 1940s in the history of the state.

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How to Start an Empire: An Interview with Steven Press
Interviews | October 4, 2017

How to Start an Empire: An Interview with Steven Press

In Rogue Empires, Stephen Press offers a pre-history to current claims to sovereignty, taking his readers back to a time in the mid-nineteenth century when empires across South Asia and Africa were started and governed by companies and adventurers. Many of these individuals were what Press deems "disreputable types": men like James Brooke, a British East India Company veteran who, by agreement with the Sultan of Brunei, became rajah of Sarawak on the island of Borneo in 1841. In Press's telling, the ventures of private actors like Brooke culminated in the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, where Belgium's King Leopold and the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck extended the imprimatur of European legitimacy to these "rogue empires." The European powers would later rely on these private entities as precedents for establishing and extending colonies in Niger, South Africa, the Congo, Namibia, Cameroon, and beyond.

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From Imperial Nation-States to European Union: Discussing European History in an International Context with Anne-Isabelle Richard
Interviews | June 16, 2017

From Imperial Nation-States to European Union: Discussing European History in an International Context with Anne-Isabelle Richard

Where does "Europe" stop, and where does the world outside Europe begin? It's a question that's engaged inhabitants of the peninsula of the great world continent for centuries, if also one that has assumed newly tragic dimensions as refugees from Balkan states, refugees from countries such as Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and Afghanistan, and migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa test their chances in crossing the seas, boarding the trains, and hopping the fences that separate Europe from an ostensibly more dangerous, more cruel, and more hungry outside world. Seemingly freed of its old morally burdensome entanglements in its African, Asian and Caribbean colonies, a reformed, European Union-ized Continent faces the challenges of how it wants to interact with the world of former colonies, mandates, and other possessions that it once ruled and still, of course, holds a dominant trading relationship with. Can history contextualize some of these debates?

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The Grid and the Territory: Discussing What Comes After the Map with William Rankin
Interviews | March 31, 2017

The Grid and the Territory: Discussing What Comes After the Map with William Rankin

If we accept the GPS beacons embedded in our smartphones—or guided missiles—as the exponent of "progress," we risk overlooking how differently (and not just "better") GPS's relationship to territory and space is from those of earlier world-mapping technologies. After the Map seeks to provide, then, not just a technical history of different mapping tools over the twentieth century. It provides an analysis of how shifts in tools engendered shifts in what William Rankin dubs geo-epistemology: "not just what is known about the earth, but how it is known— and how it is used."

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Global Interior: A Conversation with Megan Black About the U.S. Interior Department in the American World Order
Interviews | March 16, 2017

Global Interior: A Conversation with Megan Black About the U.S. Interior Department in the American World Order

Megan Black studies the United States Department of the Interior as an institutional prism through which to see a new history of U.S. global reach since 1890. Often misunderstood as an obscure branch of the U.S. government, the Department of the Interior, in Black's account, turns out to be a crucial agent of American power toward the outside world in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Rather than seeing Interior as a mere manager of that which was already "inside" the U.S. polity, she sees it as the crucial actor in a process of "interiorization" whereby resources once external to the American homeland (whether in the North American West or anywhere in the world) were made legible and potentially extractable.

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The Other Intellectuals: A Conversation with Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins About Raymond Aron and International Order
Interviews | December 10, 2016

The Other Intellectuals: A Conversation with Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins About Raymond Aron and International Order

Raymond Aron represents one of the most important intellectuals to take stock of the global situation in the twentieth century. A frequent commentator to French debates through his position at the Sorbonne and Collège de France, and his long-time column at the newspaper Le Figaro (and, later, L'Express), he engaged in debates about the Algerian war of independence, the meaning of the 1968 student protests in France, and France's position in a world marked by the East-West conflict, decolonization, and economic reconstruction in Europe. There is another side to Aron that his current translation into the North American scene barely captures: namely, his engagement with American intellectual thought on themes like neoliberalism, modernization theory, and détente. Throughout his career, Aron debated and challenged Anglophone intellectuals like Edward Shils, Walt Rostow, Friedrich Hayek and others as intellectuals across the Atlantic found intellectual legitimizations for American hegemony. Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins's account also captures an Aron best understood not as a static "responsible" intellectual never changing, but rather as an evolving intellect who by the end of his life had arguably become a neoconservative. By the early 1980s, Aron was less committed to the kind of social democratic politics that marked his work from the 1940s and 1950s.

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Policing the "Slums of the World": A Conversation About Exporting American Police Expertise with Stuart Schrader
Interviews | November 24, 2016

Policing the "Slums of the World": A Conversation About Exporting American Police Expertise with Stuart Schrader

As Americans debate their choice of President, enthusiasm for long-term ground wars in the Middle East seems at an all-time low. Both candidates debate the merits of drone warfare in distant lands, or even the desirability (and viability) of a ban on Muslims' entry to the United States, but what does seem unanimous after two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that the U.S. role in the region is best handled by some combination of deploying remote force against "them" over "there," and preventing "them" from coming to "us" "here." With many debating whether the country can police its own cities in a way that does not reinforce racial injustice or systemic hierarchies, American appetites for reconfiguring foreign societies to police themselves appears to be at an all-time nadir. Yet even if Americans seek a more reclusive role vis-à-vis the world (or at least societies wracked by civil war and conflict), what remains clear is that the effects of those wars are rebounding into America itself.

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Anti-Westernism in Question: An Interview with Cemil Aydin on Pan-Asianism, Pan-Islamism, and the Idea of the "Muslim World" in History
Interviews | October 12, 2016

Anti-Westernism in Question: An Interview with Cemil Aydin on Pan-Asianism, Pan-Islamism, and the Idea of the "Muslim World" in History

Non-Muslim communities and other religions have historically been disenchanted with European colonization and its claims that the white race and Christianity were somehow superior. This disenchantment makes us question whether anti-Westernism is a derivative of anti-colonial critiques or whether it represents a distinctively religious reaction to modernity. Such wider analysis is crucial in order to understand why anti-Western ideas persist in current times. Ottoman pan-Islamism and Japanese pan-Asianism play a vital role in deciphering the influence of anti-Western ideas on global history. Both Ottoman Turkey and Japan struggled with the ideas about Western "the standards of civilization" around the same time. Do the events and ideological currents in these two empires help us understand anti-Westernisms today?

Read more about `Anti-Westernism in Question: An Interview with Cemil Aydin on Pan-Asianism, Pan-Islamism, and the Idea of the "Muslim World" in History`
Making the Pilgrimage to the "Mecca of Revolution": A Conversation with Jeffrey James Byrne on Algerian Internationalism and the Third World
Interviews | August 25, 2016

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

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.

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De-Segregating International Relations: A Conversation with Robert Vitalis on "White World Order, Black Power Politics"
Interviews | May 30, 2016

De-Segregating International Relations: A Conversation with Robert Vitalis on "White World Order, Black Power Politics"

Debates about how American universities today deal with race – whether they should scrub buildings of the names of white supremacists, or invest more in programs in African-American Studies and professionalization programs for faculty of color – are unlikely to end anytime soon. However, as the work of our most recent guest to the Global History Forum, Robert Vitalis (University of Pennsylvania), suggests, the very structure of these debates may obscure an important history in the making of universities and the structure of academic knowledge today. While coming to terms with the racist legacy of individual Presidents or college donors may be a necessary task, as Vitalis shows in his new book, White World Order, Black Power Politics. In it, he shows that race was actually quite core to many disciplines, but especially international relations of the kind taught at the Wilson School and sister institutions in the United States long before African-American protest movements challenged existing structures of power.

Read more about `De-Segregating International Relations: A Conversation with Robert Vitalis on "White World Order, Black Power Politics"`
The Emancipators: A Conversation with Amalia Ribi Forclaz on The Politics of Anti-Slavery Movements and European International History
Interviews | February 1, 2016

The Emancipators: A Conversation with Amalia Ribi Forclaz on The Politics of Anti-Slavery Movements and European International History

Globally, the phenomenon of chattel slavery (humans-as-property) and related forms of exploitation, like sex trafficking or the trafficking of children of course persisted long after slavery was abolished in Britain and the United States. Slavery is today illegal in every country in the world, but modern anti-slavery organizations reckon that there are still at least 10 to 30 million people in the world who are owned by other humans, to say nothing of much larger numbers of persons de facto enslaved through some form of debt bondage (itself legally abolished in much of the world, but still present). We may regard slavery through black and white images of plantation labor, in short, but slavery remains a big business today, with estimated global activity amounting to $35 billion, more wealth than half of all countries existent today. Slavery must end—try finding someone who disagrees with this. But as Amalia Ribi Forclaz shows in her new book, Humanitarian Imperialism: The Politics of Anti-Slavery Activism 1880-1940, the distance between ambition and reality, not to mention the thorny political questions that the move to eliminate slavery everywhere in the planet raises, is not new.

Read more about `The Emancipators: A Conversation with Amalia Ribi Forclaz on The Politics of Anti-Slavery Movements and European International History`
Guarding Empire, Mandating Statehood: A Conversation with Susan Pedersen on the League of Nations, Internationalism, and the End of Empire
Interviews | August 10, 2015

Guarding Empire, Mandating Statehood: A Conversation with Susan Pedersen on the League of Nations, Internationalism, and the End of Empire

During our brief stroll around Geneva and the Palais des Nations, we find traces of two very different international systems of statehood–empires and nation-states–that nonetheless intersect at this particular piece of very pricey real estate above the waves of Lake Geneva. But how could one tell this story in a more specific way? What was the processual glue between the world of empires that the League of Nations belonged to, and the world of normative statehood, political decolonization, and nation-states that we inhabit today? More than that, to what extent was the League of Nations not only captive to, or affected by these shifts in international order, but actually facilitative of those shifts themselves? While most readers' perceptions of the League of Nations may still center around the presumptive "failure" of that international organization to prevent war in Europe, Susan Pedersen takes a different tack in The Guardians, focusing on the League of Nations mandates system and its effects on international order during the interwar period.

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From the Banality of Evil to the Ambivalence of Good: Discussing the History of Human Rights in International Politics with Jan Eckel
Interviews | May 17, 2015

From the Banality of Evil to the Ambivalence of Good: Discussing the History of Human Rights in International Politics with Jan Eckel

When, this past summer, the Russian Federation began sending so-called "humanitarian convoys" into the militarily occupied People's Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, it was not clear whether the gesture marked the ultimate success or failure of humanitarianism and human rights as an international discourse. Half a century prior to the conflict, activists around the world despaired that both decolonization and East-West détente had created a world in which states, whether capitalist or socialist, colonial or post-, were free to abuse or murder their citizens at will without international protests.

Over the next three decades, however, the concept of human rights–long present but often impotent–enjoyed a soaring takeoff in prestige, and by the mid-1990s governments were quick to speak of "humanitarian interventions" or humanitarian bombing campaigns. Most spectacularly, the concept of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has been bandied about as an international norm (if one rejected by China and Russia) to justify potential incursions into Libya or what remains of the Syrian state. In a world in which everything from familiar realpolitik clashes to debates over immigration policy (as many Kosovars seek asylum in Germany) expresses itself in a language of human rights, have only the costumes changed while the actors stay the same?

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Of Nation-States and the United States: An Interview with Ryan Irwin
Interviews | January 20, 2015

Of Nation-States and the United States: An Interview with Ryan Irwin

Understanding the present and future of American internationalism requires understanding its past–not only through the lens of America, moreover, but understanding how the American project interacted with exogenous shifts and shocks to the international system, too–the ebb and flow of German, then Russian power, or decolonization, for example.

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Immigrants, Railroads, America, Germany: An Interview with Julío Robert Decker
Interviews | December 22, 2014

Immigrants, Railroads, America, Germany: An Interview with Julío Robert Decker

In his work to date, historian Robert Julio Decker, a scholar at the Technical University in Darmstadt, has explored the history of immigration regimes, while his future work promises to contribute the exploding literature on the history of capitalism. Speaking with him earlier this year during his tenure as a fellow at Harvard University, we discuss his path to global history, his early work, and his ongoing research on the global history of capitalism in the United States and the German Empire.

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Peace Without Victory: Adam Tooze on "The Deluge: The Great War, America, and the Remaking of the Global Order 1916-1931"
Interviews | November 29, 2014

Peace Without Victory: Adam Tooze on "The Deluge: The Great War, America, and the Remaking of the Global Order 1916-1931"

The American entrance into European and global affairs really took on full shape concomitant to the First World War–an insight that drives much of The Deluge, and which explains its temporal framing. 1916 was the year when American economic output exceeded that of the British Empire, 1931 the year of Herbert Hoover's moratorium on war debts. As commentators today question whether we might be entering a "post-American century," understanding how the American giant burst onto the global scene in the first place is all the more urgent. The Toynbee Prize Foundation had the opportunity to sit down with Adam Tooze recently to discuss his path to history, the book, and his future projects for this installment of Global History Forum.

Read more about `Peace Without Victory: Adam Tooze on "The Deluge: The Great War, America, and the Remaking of the Global Order 1916-1931"`
Globalizing Time, Globalizing Capital: A Conversation with Vanessa Ogle
Interviews | October 12, 2014

Globalizing Time, Globalizing Capital: A Conversation with Vanessa Ogle

Until the late 19th century, as University of Pennsylvania professor and global historian Vanessa Ogle shows in her work, efforts towards a global standardization of time ranged from negligible to chaotic. The standardization of time that we have today, and the divisions that we use–Central European Time from Madrid to Montenegro, Greenwich Mean Time, and scientifically controlled Coordinated Universal Time to keep time zones themselves punctual–are all relatively recent inventions. Unpacking this story, and seeing how contentious the seemingly most universal thing in the world–time–could be are great themes for global history. That's why the Global History Forum was excited to sit down to interview Ogle, who is close to publishing her findings on the history of time standardization and well underway on a second project on the global history of "archipelago capitalism."

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Featured Articles

Toynbee Coronavirus Series—Global History Forum: Jeremy Adelman, Or Rosenboim, Jamie Martin, Cindy Ewing, and Akita Shigeru
Article | June 16, 2020

Toynbee Coronavirus Series—Global History Forum: Jeremy Adelman, Or Rosenboim, Jamie Martin, Cindy Ewing, and Akita Shigeru

Toynbee Coronavirus Series—A Global Historical View of the Pandemic: Forum

Living through historically unprecedented times has strengthened the Toynbee Prize Foundation's commitment to thinking globally about history and to representing that perspective in the public sphere. In this multimedia series on the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be bringing global history to bear in thinking through the raging coronavirus and the range of social, intellectual, economic, political, and scientific crises triggered and aggravated by it.

Read more about `Toynbee Coronavirus Series—Global History Forum: Jeremy Adelman, Or Rosenboim, Jamie Martin, Cindy Ewing, and Akita Shigeru`
INTERVIEW—Toynbee Coronavirus Series: Erez Manela on the WHO, smallpox eradication, and the need for renewed internationalism
Article | June 15, 2020

INTERVIEW—Toynbee Coronavirus Series: Erez Manela on the WHO, smallpox eradication, and the need for renewed internationalism

Toynbee Coronavirus Series—A global historical view of the coronavirus pandemic: Interview with Erez Manela.

"Out of inertia, the US remains the biggest contributor, but diplomatically and politically it doesn’t care. What replaces it are organizations like the Gates Foundation, which in some ways, though not all ways, represents a return to the inter-war period, when the leading spender on global health was the Rockefeller Foundation. You can say all sorts of bad things about the WHO, but the one thing the WHO does is it gives some sort of voice to small nations and was designed to do precisely that." Erez Manela on the concept of global health, the WHO, smallpox eradication, and the need for renewed internationalism amid the pandemic.

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Toynbee Coronavirus Series—Global Historians Analyze the Pandemic: Glenda Sluga, Jie-Hyun Lim, Lauren Benton, and Hsiung Ping-chen
Article | May 21, 2020

Toynbee Coronavirus Series—Global Historians Analyze the Pandemic: Glenda Sluga, Jie-Hyun Lim, Lauren Benton, and Hsiung Ping-chen

Toynbee Coronavirus Series—A Global Historical View of the Pandemic: Historians' Statements. 

Living through historically unprecedented times has strengthened the Toynbee Prize Foundation's commitment to thinking globally about history and to representing that perspective in the public sphere. In this multimedia series on the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be bringing global history to bear in thinking through the raging coronavirus and the range of social, intellectual, economic, political, and scientific crises triggered and aggravated by it.

Read more about `Toynbee Coronavirus Series—Global Historians Analyze the Pandemic: Glenda Sluga, Jie-Hyun Lim, Lauren Benton, and Hsiung Ping-chen`
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