RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2013
||Historical Geographies of Internationalism, 1900s-1970s (1): Negotiating the international, the imperial and the colonial
Historical Geography Research Group
Mike Heffernan (The University of Nottingham, UK)
Stephen Legg (The University of Nottingham, UK)
Jake Hodder (The University of Nottingham, UK)
Mike Heffernan (The University of Nottingham, UK)
||Friday 30 August 2013, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
||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 (2): Envisioning the International: Beyond the State
Historical Geographies of Internationalism, 1900s-1970s (3): Claiming the International: Communism, Socialism, Radicalism
Scales of Ambition: The Rise and Fall of Internationalism in Soviet Cartographic Culture and Practice, from Lenin to Stalin
This paper considers the nature and evolution of Soviet internationalism in the 1920s and 1930s as articulated in post-revolutionary cartographic visual culture and practices of mapping. It proposes that the transition in Soviet political discourse from Bolshevik ‘proletarian internationalism’ to Stalinist ‘socialism in one country’, associated with border closure and centralised state-building, was reflected both in the changing form and meaning of the map in political art and in the shifting priorities and practices of professional cartographers. It argues that in Soviet visual culture the post-revolutionary enthusiasm for globalist imagery articulating an open, uniform, dynamic ideological space transcending and ultimately dissolving nations and states (itself drawing on established iconographies of radical internationalism and transnational solidarity and action) gave way to a static, centred focus on specific attributes of Soviet territory and landscape: its expanse, closure, unity, diversity, resourcefulness, and, above all, its power. Professional cartographic priorities accordingly shifted from abstraction and construction to description and representation, while internationalist visions and transnational collaborations gave way to a state-regulated territorial mapping enterprise that was bounded in scope and scale, closed and secretive in its conceptualisation and realisation.
The paper seeks to offer insights into relations between, on the one hand, the ‘international’ as imagined space, scale of political action and normative social community, and, on the other, ‘internationalism’ as worldview and doctrinal driving force. It discusses the congruence of ‘permanent revolution’ and ‘world revolution’ (or revolutionary globalism) as organising spatiotemporal principles and as envisioned future, the International beyond internationalism. Finally, it reflects on Stalinist statism and territoriality as a negation of internationalist thinking and practice.
Transnational networks of colonialism and the conceptualisation of Europe and the World (1870-1914)
The 1870s saw the rise of colonialist internationalism both among diplomats and learned societies that tried to popularize colonialism through what they called “colonial education” of European societies. Geographical conferences in Paris 1875 and Brussels in 1876 were a prelude to the foundation of colonial associations like the Ligue coloniale et maritime in France, the Spanish Sociedad Geográfica, the German Africa Society or the Belgian International African Association. The latter was an international association with branches in all the nations interested in the colonizing project. Colonial associations functioned both as colonial lobby groups and learned societies whose offshoots in the colonies provided Europe with information on the colonial praxis. When Bismarck convened the Berlin Conference in 1884/5 to establish rules to carve up the African continent, leading members of colonial associations from all over Europe participated to compensate for the lacking expertise of European diplomats on colonial matters. In 1894 they founded the Institut Colonial International in Brussels that brought together alleged “cosmopolitan” specialists in colonial sciences in order to exchange ideas and experiences. At the same time, colonial associations became more professional at promoting colonial ideas and thus they were interested in the exchange of strategies that served to legitimize colonial expansion. Concepts central to the colonial project, like “pacification”, “development” or “civilization” were discussed and reformulated in a scientific way. By doing so, they imagined Europe as a competitive community in which the ability to colonize became the prior criteria of being European. With regard to the colonized peoples they took on a paternalist stance, blended with elements of racism. In this paper, I would like to show how colonial associations created local, national, transnational and imperial networks that produced a novel kind of colonial discourse to legitimize imperialism.
The Commission on the International Map of the World, 1949-52
There can be few maps that mirror the history of the twentieth century and the rapid developments in map production as closely as the production of the International Map of the World. A proposal for a map of the whole world on a scale of 1:1,000,000 had been resented at the Fifth International Geographical Congress in Berne in 1891 by Professor Albrecht Penck. Over two decades later, the final specification of the International Map of the World (IMW) was published at the outbreak of the First World War.
Its fortunes waxed and waned with each significant historical event during such a turbulent century to a point where a major review of the ‘problem’ of the map was necessary. At the meeting of the VIIth Assembly of the International Geographical Union held in Lisbon on
April 15th 1949, a new Commission on the IMW was established under the chairmanship of J. K. Wright of the American Geographical Society (AGS).
Drawing on J. K. Wright’s correspondence held in the AGS archives at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, this paper examines the debates between various national cartographic agencies and related societies about the future of the IMW with specific focus on the transfer of the IMW Central Bureau from the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain to the United Nations in New York during the early 1950s. Much of the discussion focused on the need to combine the IMW with an internationalised version of the previously US-dominated World Aeronautical Chart, both of which were at the same 1:1 million-scale. Correspondence between Commission members and contributing mapping agencies reveals for the first time how the IMW brought to a head the clash between the ideals of internationalism in science and the harsh realities of national self-interest.
Performing the African Revolution: The First Pan-African Cultural Festival in Historical Perspective
The First Pan-African Cultural Festival, held in Algiers in July 1969, was a conscious effort on the part of newly independent African nations to emphasize the role of African culture in the postcolony and the ongoing liberation struggle. Combining performances with a symposium, artists and intellectuals enacted an ideological shift from the négritude of Léopold Sedar Senghor to the cultural nationalism first articulated a decade earlier by Frantz Fanon. The “Pan-African Cultural Manifesto,” adopted at the end of the symposium by the Organization of African Unity, enshrined this new effort as official international policy.
The major shift at the festival was born of a longer-term trajectory that situates Algeria at the center of our understanding of Third World internationalism. As France’s most important colony in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Algeria was central to the formation of French colonial ideologies and institutions across the globe. Though it shed the colonial mantle during its violent liberation war, Algeria sought to maintain this globally central position in the postcolonial period as the vanguard of radical postcolonial nationalism. By examining the internationalist efforts of Algeria in the late 1960s in broader historical perspective, I suggest a reconsideration of Algeria’s role in postcolonial internationalism.
The ‘modern’ Commonwealth, intergovernmental summitry, and the possibilities of post-colonial internationalism, 1965-1979
The ‘modern’ Commonwealth is an association of independent states that emerged from the decolonisation of the British Empire, characterised by a shared history, but by diversity in terms of race, political outlook, economic development, and religious creed. It was of one of several political and cultural organisations in the post-war period which claimed to promote international friendship, cooperation and peace between individuals and nation-states. Commonwealth internationalism worked in multiple registers – individual enthusiasm, youth programme, technical cooperation, even modern art movement. Here, I explore intergovernmental relations, focusing on Commonwealth summits, to explore the possibilities of the Commonwealth as site for internationalism in the political realm.
Honing in on three different Commonwealth Heads’ of Government Meetings (London, 1966, Singapore, 1971 and Lusaka, 1979), and examining conference relationships as racialised, gendered, and geographically specific performances, I explore the potential of these occasions to disrupt imaginaries of an equal, friendly and multiracial Commonwealth. Thus I argue that although the Commonwealth has been criticised for producing positive postcolonial narratives and thus masking historical violence and continuing inequalities, it also provided opportunities – particularly between 1965-1979 - to critique the postcolonial geopolitical scene, to challenge Britain’s leadership within the association, to build alliances between diverse countries and nations, and to imagine different moral codes and international orders. A careful excavation of the specific spaces and practices of Commonwealth summits in this period reveals not only continuities with earlier imperial models of international engagement but also the possibilities of Commonwealth internationalism in the era of decolonisation.