Decolonization and the origins of ‘excessive’ violence: Dutch military operations in Indonesia (1945-1950) in comparative perspective
10-12 December 2014 Leiden
The conference is initiated by the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) in Leiden, the Netherlands, and deals with the Indonesian decolonization war of 1945-1949. The aim in particular is to explore the occurrence of ‘excessive’ violence or (war crimes) during this conflict. In Dutch historiography there has been limited attention for the violent nature of these closing years of Dutch colonialism, while the possibility of Dutch war crimes remains a sensitive and under-explored subject. By way of a comparative approach – both diachronically and synchronically – the goal is to achieve a better understanding of the role ‘excessive’ violence played during this conflict. We want to discuss how historians can further investigate this important but neglected period of (Dutch) colonial history.
Conference Programme: Continue reading
Prof. Dr. Johannes Paulmann, currently Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow, will speak today at St Antony’s College/Oxford on the topic "The Dilemmas of Humanitarian Aid: A Historical Perspective".
Humanitarian aid has been a malleable concept. It covers a broad range of activities including emergency relief delivered to people struck by disasters; longer term efforts to prevent suffering from famine, ill-health or poverty; or humanitarian intervention. The boundaries of humanitarianism have often been blurred. Existing narratives for the twentieth century provide no satisfactory explanation for the evolution of the field. We need to highlight instead historical conjunctures and contingencies such as wars and post-war periods, empires and decolonization. The emphasis on conflicting forces and multi-layered structures at particular moments in time provides a historical perspective revealing fundamental dilemmas faced by international humanitarian aid to the present day.
This public lecture will take place on Tuesday 2nd December 2014, from 05:00 - 06:45 p.m. at the European Studies Centre.
You find additional information at:
We, Fabian Klose, Johannes Paulmann, and Andrew Thompson, would like to remind you that the Call for Applications for the first Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) 2015 is still open until 31 December 2014.
The international Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) offers research training to advanced PhD candidates and early postdocs. It combines academic sessions at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz and the Imperial and Global History Centre at the University of Exeter with archival sessions at the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The Research Academy addresses early career researchers who are working in the related fields of humanitarianism, international humanitarian law, peace and conflict studies as well as human rights covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century. It supports scholarship on the ideas and practices of humanitarianism in the context of international, imperial and global history thus advancing our understanding of global governance in humanitarian crises of the present.
The Research Academy invites applications for the 2015 Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) from PhD students and early postdocs. The Steering Committee will select up to 12 participants. Applicants must be able to certify that they are fluent in both written and spoken English, the Academy’s working language. For researching the ICRC archives a fair command of reading French is desirable in order to use the finding aids as well as the material. Continue reading
Founded in 1976, the Social History Society (SHS) organises an annual conference which is the largest regular gathering of social and cultural historians in the UK. In 2014, this event took place at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne, with over 190 papers being presented across seven thematic strands. In 2015, the SHS conference is heading to the south of England: it'll take place from 31 March to 2 April at Portsmouth University. The deadline for paper and panel proposals is 8 December 2014. Further information can be accessed via the conference website.
Readers of the 'Humanitarianism and Human Rights' blog may be particularly interested in the 'Global and Transnational Approaches' strand, which ran for the first time at the Northumbria conference. In 2014, one panel was specifically dedicated to 'Humanitarian Networks', with Tom Davies (City University) discussing Lifesaving Societies in the early 19th century, Vanessa Lincoln (Sciences-Po) analysing the Société de la morale chrétienne, and Tehila Sasson (UC Berkeley) considering the interplay between imperial and humanitarian practices. Another panel examined different responses to natural disasters in twentieth-century East Asia, with contributions from David William Clayton (York), Chris Courtney (Cambridge), Pierre Fuller (Manchester) and Janet Hunter (LSE). Furthermore, several individual papers also covered issues that connect to the themes of the HHR blog - for example, Matt Perry (Newcastle) discussed Ellen Wilkinson's contribution to the 'Hands Off China' campaign in the second half of the 1920s.
You can find a full description of the stand and its rationale via this link. If you have any further questions, you are also welcome to contact the strand convenors: Pierre Fuller, Emma Hunter and Daniel Laqua.
The 18th century saw the beginnings of the discourse on what we understand today as “minority” and “human rights” as well as “international law”. The same is true for the use of the term “diplomacy”. However, already in 1716, François de Callières (1645–1717), a minister of Louis XIV of France and member of the French academy, termed the practices of diplomacy avant la lettre perhaps in the most concise way in his treatise De la manière de négocier avec les souverains (“On the Manner of Negotiating with Princes”). De Callières advised counselors and ministers in his manual about self-control, discretion, and patience. He also recommended an interest-led negotiating style. A good mediator should always try to formulate his proposes according to the interests of his partner and should constantly point out the mutual advantages. Furthermore, the minister emphasized that the negotiating partners should always seek for a permanent, stable relationship.
So long before the concept of “diplomacy” existed and the discourse on minorities and human rights emerged, there were related practices that ensured the intercession for individuals and collectives in previous time periods, the strategic representation of interests and political negotiations. These practices of negotiating and intervening existed in various societies and they were also part of the Jewish culture.
The history of the Jews shows that negotiations with non-Jewish authorities as well as the establishment and consolidation of good relationships played an essential role. The permission of settlement and the location policy were the basis of Jewish life, particularly in medieval and early modern Europe. In the early modern period, the manner of negotiating with the non-Jewish authorities was so refined that a term based on the Aramaic root of “shadal” – meaning “to intercede” or “to make an effort” – was created: the so-called “Shtadlanut” (“intercession”). Continue reading
Miriam Ticktin, “Transnational Humanitarianism”, Annual Review of Anthropology 43 (2014). This is a useful review article on how anthropologists have studied humanitarianism since the late 1980s. It provides valuable insight into the epistemology of the discipline but also raises questions which may interest others, such as historians like myself. One of Ticktin’s main contentions is that the study of humanitarianism was central to a shift in legal and medical anthropology, from analysing cross-cultural differences to a concern with the universal through the particuluar focus on suffering subjects. In the wake of decolonization, she suggests, this turn gave anthropology a new moral legitimation following criticism in the 1960s and 1970s of its entanglement with colonialism. We may ask whether the resulting kinship between anthropologists and humanitarians perhaps also has an analogy in the role historians wish to play when they study humanitarianism.
From Ticktin’s review of the recently literature, we see a move away from this emphatic engagement of the 1990s to a sometimes severe criticism of humanitarianism in present day anthropological writings. She asks (and historians need to ask themselves the same question, I believe) from what moral, political or other position we criticise those morally driven movements and actions. What is our role when we write, for example, about the “humanitarian aid industry”; the negative consequences of living in refugee camps; the self-interests of those humanitarians who outwardly engage to “save” others; or the implication of humanitarianism with other forces such as government domination over ethnic minorities, military activities or economic interests? As scholars, we cannot stop being critical but we should perhaps also reflect on the positions we are thereby occupying.
Operation RESTORE HOPE, Somalia 1993
PHCM Terry Mitchell)
Lastly, Ticktin rightly emphasizes the blurring of boundaries of humanitarianism, i.e. the overlap between humanitarian relief, human rights, development, and humanitarian intervention. She claims that the delimitations are breaking down with the overwhelming growth of the humanitarian aid industry in recent years. From a historical perspective (see my take on the blurred history of humanitarian aid in Humanity 4/2 (2013), this is no surprise. To my knowledge, though, we do not have a careful study of how these boundaries were drawn over time. Ticktin’s review may serve as a reminder to pursue further historical investigation not only of the political in and around humanitarianism but also of the changing epistemology of scholarship on humanitarianism, and the way both interact. This is what a historian takes away from reading a most welcome review of the recent anthropological literature.
The Journal of Human Rights/Zeitschrift für Menschenrechte (zfmr) is a multidisciplinary quarterly journal, which publishes articles concerning the issues of human rights in English and German. Its aim is to serve as an interdisciplinary forum for the public discussion and social-theoretic reflection of questions of human rights. The journal reaches out especially to scholars working in all fields of political science, history, philosophy, sociology, and legal theory as well as politicians, policy makers and decision makers in politics, economy, and civil society. It seeks to intensive significantly the debate about human rights in political science and in related disciplines and offers wide-ranging approaches to the subject including both theoretic and empirical perspectives.
The main objective of the Journal of Human Rights is “to make a significant scholarly contribution to the theory of human rights and enrich and expand discourses about rights in practical political, economic, and social contexts. The journal is committed to the systematic development of the human rights subfield in political science and to the broadening the debate on human rights at all levels.”
Its recent issue focuses on the topic of "Human Rights and Violence" and contains a broad variety of articles from different disciplines. You can have a look at the abstracts of all contributions @:http://www.zeitschriftfuermenschenrechte.de/
In this issue I have published a contribution on the emergence and limits of the human rights regime after 1945 with a special reference to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 in the colonial context. Continue reading
The research program "Humanitarian Policy Group" at the British research institute ODI (Overseas Development Institute) in London has recently published the first results of its project on "The global history of humanitarian action", focusing on the history of humanitarian action in the Middle East and North Africa.
This study, edited by Eleanor Davey and Eva Svoboda, offers interesting insights into both the still unexplored history of humanitarianism in the Arab World and its important links with urgent questions of the present time.
The publication can be found and downloaded at: http://www.odi.org/publications/8787-history-humanitarian-middle-east-mena-zakat-palestine-displacement-lebanon-yemen
Some blog readers may be interested in a recent themed issue of the European Review of History, dedicated to 'Transnational Solidarities and the Politics of the Left, 1890-1990' and jointly edited by Charlotte Alston and Daniel Laqua (the author of this post). You can access the contributions via this link. While the emphasis is neither on humanitarianism nor on human rights as such, many of the articles address issues that are connected to these phenomena. As a whole, the contributions raise a number of questions that are highly relevant when analysing humanitarian efforts and human rights campaigns within their wider historical context.
- How do groups, organisations and individuals frame their transnational campaigns? As many of the contributors to this journal issue show, actors often adopted a language that evoked specific rights or liberties, for instance when denouncing 'despotism' abroad. In some instances activists stressed their solidarity with a specific cause while also casting their actions as humanitarian (e.g. West German activists who undertook practical work in the Sandinistas' Nicaragua).
- What kind of mechanisms can activists draw upon when seeking to mobilise people and organise efforts across national borders? What communication channels do they use? The contributions cover a repertoire - from pamphlets and letter campaigns to broadcasts - that will be familiar to anyone studying humanitarianism or human rights activism.
- To what extent was the construction of a specific cause as 'transnational' or 'global' a constituent element of specific campaigns? In many cases, it is necessary to juxtapose the rhetoric of a 'solidarity beyond borders' with their limitations and constraints. For instance, several authors shed light on the ways in which transnational campaigns were tied to local aspirations and desires. Continue reading
Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz)
Johannes Paulmann (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz)
Andrew Thompson (University of Exeter)
in co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva)
and with support by the German Historical Institute London
Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz
and Archives of the International Committee of Red Cross Geneva
Date: 13-24 July 2015
Deadline: 31 December 2014
Information on: http://hhr.hypotheses.org/ and http://imperialglobalexeter.com/
The international Global Humanitarianism | Research Academy (GHRA) offers research training to advanced PhD candidates and early postdocs. It combines academic sessions at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz and the Imperial and Global History Centre at the University of Exeter with archival sessions at the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The Research Academy addresses early career researchers who are working in the related fields of humanitarianism, international humanitarian law, peace and conflict studies as well as human rights covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century. It supports scholarship on the ideas and practices of humanitarianism in the context of international, imperial and global history thus advancing our understanding of global governance in humanitarian crises of the present.
Christine Unrau, Käte Hamburger Kolleg, Centre for Global Cooperation
Research, Essen/Universität Köln
Humanitarianism - as a concept and as a practice - has become a major factor in world society: It channels an enormous amount of resources and serves as an argument for different kinds of interference into the "internal affairs" of a country. It is therefore a fertile testing ground for successful and unsuccessful cooperation across borders. At
the same time, humanitarian action is a form of cooperation that is rooted in cultures of gift-giving, even though they are sometimes exploited for strategic aims.
Against this backdrop, the Centre for Global Cooperation Research, in
cooperation with the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities
(KWI), organized the conference "Humanitarianism and Changing Cultures
of Cooperation" from June 5-7, 2014. As suggested in the title, the aim
of the conference was to shed light both on humanitarianism, its
ambivalences and dilemmas, and its relevance for questions of global
Presenters came from the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway,
Germany and Uganda. Among the speakers and audience there were both
junior researchers and internationally renowned scholars, some of them
with a long experience both as academics and practitioners.
We, Fabian Klose (IEG Mainz), Johannes Paulmann (IEG Mainz), and Andrew Thompson (University of Exeter), are happy to announce that, in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva), we are starting the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) in July 2015.
This international Research Academy will offer research training to a group of advanced international PhD candidates and early postdoctoral scholars selected by the steering committee. It will combine academic sessions at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz and the Imperial and Global History Centre at the University of Exeter with archival sessions at the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The Research Academy is open to early career researchers who are working in the related fields of humanitarianism, humanitarian law, peace and conflict studies as well as human rights covering the period from the 18th to the 20th centuries. It supports scholarship on the ideas and practices of humanitarianism in the context of international, imperial and global history thus advancing our understanding of global governance in humanitarian crises of the present.
The official Call for Applications will be soon published here on http://hhr.hypotheses.org/ and on http://imperialglobalexeter.com/, so if you are interested in applying keep following our blogs!
Fabian Klose Johannes Paulmann Andrew Thompson
As described in one of my earlier posts the Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz successfully applied for the panel “The Congress of Vienna and the Slave Trade -Religion, International Relations and Humanitarianism” at the international conference "The Vienna Congress and Its Global Dimensions.", which takes place from Thursday 18th to Monday 22nd September 2014 at the University of Vienna.
Here are the abstracts our today's panel papers.
When evaluating the Congress of Vienna of 1814/15, historians traditionally concentrate on the negotiations to redraw the political map of Europe and on the establishment of an order meant to ensure peace on the continent in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. However, the implications of the congress went far beyond the European scope and were directly linked to manifold global issues such as the trans-Atlantic slave trade, one of the burning issues of the time. By signing the “Déclaration des 8 Cours, relative à l’Abolition Universelle de la Traite des Nègres” on 8 February 1815 the representatives of the major European powers established for the first time in history a humanitarian norm in international law. The aim of the proposed panel is to investigate the miscellaneous entanglements of this norm-setting process by focusing on the role of religion and religious actors, emerging humanitarianism, international relations and the impact of abolition on the process of Latin-American independence.
Cross-posted from http://imperialglobalexeter.com/
An Imperial & Global Forum Interview
Professor Richard Toye (RT) interviews Centre Director Andrew Thompson (AT). Professor Thompson recently returned from an archival visit to the ICRC and would like to thank Jean-Luc Blondel and his colleagues for their assistance and guidance.
RT: Andrew, you’ve recently come back from Geneva, where you’ve been doing some archival research. What were you looking at and why?
AT: I was looking at two sets of files in the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross that have not yet been publicly released. The first on the Nigeria-Biafran War – a watershed in the history of the ICRC as well as a conflict that has been aptly described as the “crucible of modern humanitarianism”. I hope to be the first scholar to reconstruct in detail what one of the largest post-war relief operations actually looked and felt like on the ground. Second, I was looking at their files related to Aden as part of a parallel interest in the relationship between humanitarianism and human rights and the ICRC’s work on behalf of political detainees. Aden brought to a head many issues regarding the status of such detainees that had been simmering for several years.
RT: Stephanie Decker has recently suggested that historians need to be more explicit about how and why they use archives in order to help explain their work to people in other disciplines. What are the advantages of this kind of evidence for understanding the problems of humanitarianism? Continue reading
The Leibniz Institut of European History (IEG) Mainz is member of the Leibniz Association, which connects 89 independent research institutions that range in focus from the natural, engineering and environmental sciences via economics, spatial and social sciences to the humanities.
The recent issue of the Leibniz-Journal focuses on the most relevant topic of peace and conflicts in history, international relations and international law. The articles deal with a broad variety of themes reaching from the First World War and the Versailles post-war order to the culture of commemorating war and to most recent conflicts of the 21st century such as in the Ukraine.
Additionally the contribution of Mounia Meiborg discusses critically the concept of humanitarian intervention by referring to research projects at different Leibniz Institutes, including my own about the history of humanitarian intervention here at the IEG Mainz.
If you are interested in reading the article, you will find it @: