Academic Platform Switzerland-UN - 2011 Award!

PhD Candidate Bernhard Blumenau received, on Thursday 1 December, the 2011 Academic Platform Switzerland-UN prize for his paper entitled "Coping with the Scourge of Mankind: The UN and Terrorism in the 1970s." CONGRATULATIONS!

Photo: Lisa Komar


Keynote - David Rapoport

A crowd gathers for David Rapoport's speech on "The International Context of the Four Waves of Modern Terror."

Blogging the Terrorism and International Politics Conference - Day 1

On this sunny Thursday, a group of about 30 to 40 scholars, drawn from conference presenters as well as members of the Graduate Institute community, gathered at the Auditorium Jacques Freymond to kick off the annual Fondation Pierre du Bois conference. This years' event, on "Terrorism and International Politics: Past, Present and Future," sought to examine one of the most visible and intractable problems in recent history.

The first panel, on Terrorism before World War II - featured three speakers. Richard Jensen (Louisana Scholars' College) departed from keynote speaker David Rapoport's framework of the four waves of terrorism, and sought to examine international efforts to control first wave terrorism. Florian Grafl (University of Giessen) took an individualized approach to studying terrorism in interwar Barcelona. And Pierre-Etienne Bourneuf (HEID/Georgetown) took a look at allied strageic bombing against Germany in the First World War.

The second panel, on Terrorism in the Cold War, leaned heavy on the Reagan years. The first speaker, Jonathan Gantt (University of South Carolina), was the exception when he talked about Communist and Jim Crow Terrorism in the US in the early cold war. Thomas Riegler (Vienna) focused on state sponsorship of terrorism. Richard Thornton (GWU) continued from Riegler's discussion and raised the terrorist vs. freedom fighter quandry.

Panel 2, from left to right: Chair Jussi Hanhimaki (HEID), Richard Thornton (GWU), Thomas Riegler (Vienna), Jonathan Gantt (Univeristy of South Carolina)

The third panel, on terrorism and international organisations, spanned the last 30 years. Bernhard Blumenau (HEID) talked about West Germany's success in pushing for a convention against terrorism in the arena of the United Nations in the 1970s. Shaloma Gauthier (HEID) gave a nuanced presentation on SWAPO's use and abuse of "human rights" in their struggle for national liberation (or as terrorists, depending on which side you follow). Anita Blagojevic (University of Osijek) talked about the recent role of the EU and the Council of Europe in dealing with human rights after 9/11.

Panel 3, from left to right: Anita Blagojevic (University of Osijek), Chair Davide Rodogno (HEID), Shaloma Gauthier (HEID), and Bernhard Blumenau (HEID)

The final panel of day one focused on regional experiences. First up was Markus Lammert (Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, Munich) on French leftist terrorism during and just after '68. Nathaniel Powell (HEID) presented on the Claustre Affair, a protracted hostage crisis in Chad.

From Panel 4, Nat Powell (HEID)

And finally Tobias Hof (Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, Munich) presented on repentance policies in Italian law as regards terrorism.

All speakers benefitted from numerous comments from participants and observers alike.

Til the keynote this evening!


Conference Report: Looking Back - Looking Forward - The Women's History Network 20th Annual Conference

With the support of the IHEID Department of International History and the Women's History Network conference committee, I was able to attend the 20th Women's History Network Conference in London from 9-11 September 2011. This conference was eye-opening - it was a very different network than the sorts I am used to - I should explain that I consider myself a historian of international organizations, and it is within this community I have predominantly resided - though my dissertation has a large gender component, I do not primarily identify as a women's historian.

The conference opened on the 9th after lunch. Multiple sessions ran concurrently, but the one that caught my eye at the time was the 'Politics' session. The subjects discussed were an individual (Sheena Evans on Janet Vaughan), a cohesive group (Marta del Moral Vargas on the Feminine Socialist Group of Madrid), and a constructed cohort (Helen McCarthy on women in the British Diplomatic Service). For the interests of my research, I was most interested in Dr. McCarthy's work, particularly the discussion regarding the concept of the "incorporated wife."

For the second session of the day, I stepped away from my own research and learned about something more contemporary in the 'Women's Movements' panel. Margaretta Jolly and her team, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, gave a check-in after two years of their three-year project entitled "Sisterhood and After: The [British] Women's Liberation Oral History Project" have been completed. There was a real effort to make this section pedagogic - the audience was first asked to, with a limited budget, create a hypothetical women's liberation archive - what types of sources and perspectives to include? The discussion, which included participants from the early years of their graduate studies to veterans of Second Wave women's lib, raised a variety of source possibilities (from minutes to websites) and the problems of capturing primary testimony while subjects were still alive. Given my prior professional experience in archives I was particularly taken with this panel. Jolly's project, comprised of 50 interviews representing a variety of viewpoints, will be available for consultation at the British Library (houses the largest oral history collection in the world) and at The Women's Library.

Friday night was capped with Kathryn Gleadle's keynote speech. As the conference was a 20th anniversary event, the main theme was, how far has women's history come since the beginnings of the network?

Day 2 began for me with a 'Marriage' panel, where we heard about desertion in marriage and its effect on women in Scotland (Andrea Thomson); the one instance in which a child protection entity in Ireland acted in support if mothers (Sarah-Anne Buckley); and about the brief period in which there was a marriage bar in the BBC (Kate Murphy). The chair of this session, Maggie Andrews, raised the salient commonality of all of these presentations - the divide between discourse and practice.

After the first panel was a plenary wherein several of the key figures in the field of British Women's History reminisced about how they came to see a need for such a field and went about creating it.

For the second panel of the day I chose a ‘Life Histories’ panel, which presented works based on a variety of sources. Lynn Abrams used oral histories to illuminate the ‘transition generation’ of British women (post-WWII, prior to women’s lib). Elizabeth DeWolfe presented an engaging story about Madeline Pollard, a spurned lover of prominent American Senator, through a variety of sources, including newspapers and diaries. And Charmain Cannon highlighted the role of British women in World War I through the lens of her grandmother’s personal letters. One of the more interesting points to come out of the discussion during this panel was the idea of a generation (eg. ‘transition generation’, Baby Boomers, etc.) as a construct.

Day three marked the highlight of the conference for me – I was fortunate enough to be on a ‘Life Histories’ panel with a brilliant group of young and energetic historians! First, Paul Merchant of the British Library presented his current project, a series of interviews with female scientists in Britain. I was sandwiched in the middle, presenting the prosopgraphical aspect of my doctoral dissertation. The panel rounded out with Anne Devenish, of the University of Oxford, presenting on Indian women in the United Nations. We all benefitted from the lively discussion sparked by our Chair, Anna Davin, one of the founders of the History Workshop Journal.

The main thing that surprised me about the conference was the different approach emphasized. At HEID we debate quite a bit at the moment about the value of the “transnational” as a category – this framework was almost entirely absent from the panels I attended. Additionally, on Saturday at lunch I heard a few people murmuring they were surprised that there was not much of a focus on Empire either. Nevertheless, as a historian of international organizations, I found it quite illuminating to delve into a different strain of history for the weekend.


Towards a New History of the League of Nations

Last week, graduate students and established scholars from several continents gathered in Geneva to discuss a "New History of the League of Natitons." Some links for posterity:

Graduate Institute press note on the conclusion of the event.

Keith Watenpaugh (UC Davis) debriefs us on his presentation and panel here.