Internationalism in the (long) Twentieth Century (PhD Workshop)

Lea Börgerding's picture
Call for Papers
March 5, 2020 to April 15, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Diplomacy and International Relations, Human Rights, Political History / Studies, Area Studies

Workshop on Internationalism in the (long) Twentieth Century

21- 23 October 2020

Location: re:work Berlin

The international history of the twentieth century was long viewed primarily through the lens of nation-states, their foreign policies, and international institutions. In recent years, however, this focus has shifted. Exciting new scholarship now moves beyond the ‘national’, centering for instance on internationalisms in world socialist theory and practice or anti-colonial internationalisms of the Bandung era. Historians have also turned to transnational and transimperial women’s and anarchist networks, global peace movements, and trans-state intercultural structures of the ‘world religions’, to name but a few. As such, they started to unearth a plethora of political imaginaries of the international sphere that flourished both alongside and in competition with nationalism and imperialism.

Organized by a group of PhD students from Humboldt University and Free University Berlin, this interdisciplinary PhD workshop explores the histories of internationalisms in the long 20th century. Participants will be asked to reflect on the political, economic, social, and cultural circumstances and infrastructures that made internationalist thinking and activism throughout this period possible. To this end, the workshop poses important questions such as: How have different ideas about and actors of internationalism travelled across time and space? What mediums – from mass media over literature, image and music, to transportation technologies – allowed for the dissemination of concepts beyond national and imperial confines? And through what identities, groups, and networks did internationalist thinking emerge? In times in which liberal internationalist norms are increasingly under threat, this PhD workshop also seeks to focus more closely on competing internationalist ideas and unearth some of their inherent contradictions: how inclusive or exclusive were different internationalist visions? What kinds of knowledge have internationalists created or reconfigured?

The workshop particularly welcomes applications that focus on the following topics:

● State-sponsored internationalism / internationalism as diplomacy

● Non-liberal ideas of internationalism

● Mediatization, communication, and the spread of internationalist ideas

● Relationship between internationalism and refuge / exile

● Activist / non-state forms of internationalism (e.g. anti-colonial, feminist, religious)

● Circulation of (visual) knowledge about internationalism

● Mobile / sedentary actors and groups of internationalism

● Intergovernmental / institutionalized internationalism

Practical Information 

Proposals for papers should include the title, an abstract of maximum 300 words, and a short CV of the applicant. Please send proposals to before 15 April 2020. Notification of acceptance will be announced at the beginning of May. Participants are expected to submit a 3,000 – 5,000 word paper ahead of the workshop in September.

An amount of funding is available for travel reimbursements. We particularly encourage PhD students from the Global South to send their contributions. For further information and questions please contact us at


Alina Oswald, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Ana Carolina Schveitzer, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Lea Börgerding, Freie Universität Berlin

William Lyon, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Tristan Oestermann, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Oscar Broughton, Freie Universität Berlin