RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2013
||Historical Geographies of Internationalism, 1900s-1970s (2): Envisioning the International: Beyond the State
History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group
Mike Heffernan (The University of Nottingham, UK)
Stephen Legg (The University of Nottingham, UK)
Jake Hodder (The University of Nottingham, UK)
Stephen Legg (The University of Nottingham, UK)
||Friday 30 August 2013, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
||Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Lecture Theatre G34
Recent works in historical geography have engaged with the international as a concept, a scalar network, a form of mobility and a political affiliation that, though with earlier origins and later manifestations, was of particular significance in the first half of the twentieth century. These studies have examined the geographies of political networks, revolutionary friendships, the League of Nations, new forms of cartography, capitalist internationalisms and the critical geographies of international research. In part, these works mark geography’s growing rapprochement with international relations in recent years, based on a common and interwoven agenda to re-think the potential of the international as the most urgent scale at which governance, political activity and political resistance has to operate when confronting the larger environmental, economic and strategic challenges of the 21st century. However, this rapprochement has rarely acknowledged that internationalism has both a history and a geography, which is the epistemic space in which we situate these sessions. They will counter-pose investigations of “the international” and internationalism as a means of exploring the coherent and divergent usages of this amorphous concept. Speakers will broadly address these questions:
• How did the international relate to the imperial? How did they have different geographical (and scalar) imaginations and infrastructural networks?
• What does the “inter” mean in relation to the “national”? How does it relate to trans-nationalism? Who could articulate the international? To what extent was it an inter-nationa-state-ism?
• What were the racial assumptions behind internationalism? Who could perform it? Did it have immanent revolutionary potential? What is it relationship to cosmopolitanism? Or to anti-colonialism/de-colonisation?
• Did the international provide an ethico-humanitarian mask for economic imperialism? Can internationalism be seen as an aggressive international manifestation of American nationalism? How did Cold War geopolitics begin to transform the potential of internationalism?
• What moral codes were used to inspire internationalisms? Religious? Humanitarian? Secular humanist?
• What are the histories and geographies behind environmental problems and challenges, including climate change, which are often presented as requiring international agreements and solutions?
Historical Geographies of Internationalism, 1900s-1970s (1): Negotiating the international, the imperial and the colonial
Historical Geographies of Internationalism, 1900s-1970s (3): Claiming the International: Communism, Socialism, Radicalism
Geoeconomic Imaginings of the International
In 1916, Samuel McRoberts, a vice-president at the National City Bank of New York (later to become Citibank), wrote of his recent travels in Russia thus: “While the citizens of all countries are very much prone to look upon themselves as different from, and incidentally better than, the people of other lands, the real fact remains that all peoples are essentially the same and respond in similar manner to physical and ethical influences.” This ecumenical world view strikes us as quite modern particularly in comparison to the hierarchical narrative of “civilization” that formed the discursive underpinnings of imperialism. Yet a certain kind of economic imperial view becomes evident when one realizes that the “influences” that all people purportedly respond to in a similar manner are those brought about by American commerce. In this paper I explore the ways that American corporations imagined the international and their role in it at a time when the United States was ascendant as a world economic power. Based on archival research, I interrogate how geoeconomic hopes and geopolitical realities shaped an emerging view of international commerce that came to dominate American boardrooms (as well as economic geography classrooms) in the first decades of the 20th century.
A Cosmopolitan Internationalism? Albert Kahn and the Autour du Monde Travel Fellowships
The philanthropic activities of Albert Kahn (1860-1940), who rose from a relatively humble Alsatian Jewish family to became one of the wealthiest men in Europe in the years before and after World War One, have been extensively researched in recent years. Attention has focused on the ambitious project Kahn developed, alongside the geographer Jean Brunhes whose chair at the Collège de France he financed, to assemble a vast photographic and cinematic record, much of it in colour, showing the peoples and landscapes of the entire globe, the so-called Archives de la Planète (e.g. Amad 2010; Clout 2012; Winter 2006). This paper considers another aspect of Kahn’s work, the Autour du Monde travel fellowships that were awarded competitively to intelligent and enterprising young people beginning in 1898 and continuing, following an interruption during World War One, until the Kahn foundation collapsed after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Inspired in part by the philosophy of Henri Bergson, his life-long friend and former tutor, Kahn espoused resolutely pacifist, internationalist and cosmopolitan beliefs, his travel fellowship in particular designed to facilitate the emergence of a new intellectual elite, the future leaders of a post-nationalist world. Drawing on the unpublished reports by those who received Kahn travel awards (a list that included the geographers Percy Roxby and Alan Ogilvie) and on the writings of Kahn himself and those of Bergson (specifically Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion (1932) in which the philosopher sought to defend Kahn’s philanthropic work), this paper examines the tensions that undermined this remarkable utopian vision and the wider programme of cultural and political internationalism that it exemplified, specifically the tensions between universalism and imperialism, between intellectual elitism and inclusive democracy, and between technological progress and human rights.
‘Agents of Good Will’: An historical geography of philanthropy and the Institute of International Education, c. 1946-1952
The Institute of International Education (IIE) became a pioneer of an American version of ‘international education’ which was defined by the geopolitical, economic and cultural imaginations of American philanthropy. The co-founder and Director of the organisation, Stephen Pierce Duggan (1870-1950), saw the role of international education as an instrument in the development of the ‘international mind’, which would foster desirable international civilities and make the US the ‘Mecca of international education’. This paper will explore how the idea of an international education was envisaged by American philanthropic foundations in a particularly turbulent period in the history of the IIE at the end of the Second World War. The new IIE Director Laurence Duggan (1905-1948) was accused of being a Soviet double-agent and the Institute was increasingly utilised by the State Department as an important geopolitical instrument, prompting the re-structuring of the organisation in 1952 at the behest of the philanthropists. Through the support of the Ford Foundation, as well as the Carnegie Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation, international education came to be defined as an affective politics of experience in which students and scholars became embodiments of a particular version of internationalism. The promotion of cultural exchange, the training of foreign political elites and expanding American educational presence abroad formed the primary mechanisms through which the IIE and the foundations advanced their internationalist philosophies beyond mere ‘agents of good will’.
Radical Pacifism, Internationalism and the Ephemeral Geographies of the World Peace Brigade (1962-64)
This paper explores the brief, but noteworthy, history of the ‘World Peace Brigade for Non-violent Action’ which took the form of an international, peace-army, modelled on Gandhi’s Shanti Sena. As geographers flesh out the implications of crafting ‘geographies of peace’, an historical-geographical account of peace movements themselves becomes an increasingly remarkable absence. By drawing on published and unpublished sources from the UK and the USA, the paper argues that the experiments of radical pacifists in the post-war years to find, what William James termed, “the moral equivalent of war,” carved out a distinctive radical-pacifist internationalism which positioned the transcendence of violence and nationalism as inexorably entwined. By coupling together the pursuit of peace with a transnational program of racial justice, the paper argues that the Brigade represented the culmination of ‘radical’ or ‘revolutionary’ pacifism. In so doing, peace is revealed in its barest and broadest terms – not as the mere absence of war, but a dismantling of all forms of inequality, of civil rights and anti-colonialism, and as a web connecting together the shared struggles for freedom across porous national and racial borders.
Transnationalism and the Catholic Geopolitical Imaginary
The Catholic Church operates across national boundaries and requires an international geographical imagination. This paper explores some aspects of the geopolitical imaginary of the Catholic Church. It does this by comparing and contrasting two important papal arguments about the international context of Catholicism. This first of these came in the early twentieth century when Pius X responded to modernity with a series of letters and instructions that culminated in a list of 65 modernist heresies and in an oath with which priests, bishops and teacher of Catholic religion would abjure modernity. The second comprises the arguments of the recent pope, Benedict XVI, who has presented a number of arguments about the relations between Catholic and non-Catholic religions, with particular emphasis upon Islam. These amount to a new geopolitical imaginary for the Catholic Church.