From Beirut to Berlin (via Geneva): the new international history, Middle East studies and the League of Nations

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The global politics of sovereignty that developed after the Cold War, together with the catastrophic United States led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after 2001, have furnished international, imperial and diplomatic historians with good, grim reasons to return to the interlocked histories of empire, internationalism and international institutions. A torrent of work on the Geneva based League of Nations (LON) has been one result, alongside writing on the United Nations (UN). In particular, scholars such as Susan Pedersen, Patricia Clavin and Glenda Sluga, already well versed in the archives and literature of European empires and their gender and economic politics, have led a systematic reappraisal of internationalism and international institutions after the First World War. They brought to this campaign heuristic tools sharpened in the 1990s, in the cultural historiography of empire, and they aimed broadly to understand the League's workings and variety, rather than to reassert its political failures. The parallel – and often intersecting – rise of historiographies on the modern and contemporary histories of economic development, human rights and humanitarianism, with their frequent attention to the role of international institutions, has further catalysed this renewal.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-726
Number of pages18
JournalContemporary European History
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2018