Michael G. Vann interviewed Mona L. Siegel about Peace on Our Terms: The Global Battle for Women’s Rights After the First World (Columbia University Press, 2020) on the New Books in History podcast.
We are all familiar with the story of how in early 1919 heads of state and diplomats from around the world came to Paris to negotiate a peace settlement with a defeated Germany and its allies. Many of us are aware of how nationalists such as Nguyễn Ái Quốc, the future Hồ Chí Minh, tried to gain access to the official meetings. But far fewer of us know of the roles played of activist women such as the French Marguerite de Witt Schlumberger, the African American Ida Gibbs Hunt, and the Chinese Soumay Tcheng.
In her new book Peace on Our Terms: The Global Battle for Women’s Rights After the First World (Columbia University Press, 2020),Professor Mona L. Siegel explores the previously neglected history of a diverse group of women from around the world who fought for women’s rights as male politicians forged a new world order. Written like a true global history, Peace on Our Terms links the meeting rooms of Paris to street demonstrations in Cairo to the revolutionary underworld of Shanghai. Not only does Siegel gender the history of 1919, but she also offers a serious critique of traditional narratives of the American women’s movement by bringing in issues of race and class. Based on her research in archives in several countries on both sides of the Atlantic, Siegel explores troves of previously untouched documents. This is a scholarly work written in a style accessible for a general audience.
Mona L. Siegel of Sacramento State University earned her PhD at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 2004, she published The Moral Disarmament of France: Education, Pacifism, and Patriotism, 1914-1940 with Cambridge University Press. In addition to awards from the Peace History Society and the History of Education Society, Siegel received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities for research on feminist activism and peace negotiations after World War One.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empire, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford, 2018). When he’s not quietly reading or happily talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.