Special journal issue on solidarity and transnational activism

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.

As many of  contributions in this journal issue show, solidarity campaigns had manifold overlaps with the actions of humanitarians or human rights activists. The list of articles gives you an idea of the range of topics covered in this journal issue:

  • Charlotte Alston (Northumbria), ‘Transnational solidarities and the politics of the left: introduction’
  • Robert Henderson (QMUL), ‘The Hyde Park Rally of 9 March 1890: a British response to Russian atrocities’
  • Daniel Laqua (Northumbria), ‘Freethinkers, anarchists and Francisco Ferrer: the making of a transnational solidarity campaign’
  • Michael Goebel (FU Berlin), ‘Geopolitics, transnational solidarity or diaspora nationalism? The global career of M.N. Roy, 1915-1930’
  • Gleb J. Albert (Bielefeld), ‘To help the Republicans not just by donations and rallies, but with the rifle”: militant solidarity with the Spanish Republic in the Soviet Union, 1936-1937’
  • Anne-Isabelle Richard (Leiden), ‘The limits of solidarity: Europeanism, anti-colonialism and socialism at the Congress of the Peoples of Europe, Asia and Africa in Puteaux, 1948’
  • Jodi Burkett (Portsmouth), ‘The National Union of Students and transnational solidarity, 1958-1968’
  • Sylvia Ellis (Northumbria), ‘Promoting solidarity at home and abroad: the goals and tactics of the anti-Vietnam War movement in Britain’
  • Eleanor Davey (Manchester), ‘French adventures in solidarity: revolutionary tourists and radical humanitarians’
  • Christian Helm (Hannover), ‘Booming solidarity: Sandinista Nicaragua and the West German solidarity movement in the 1980s’
  • Kim Christiaens (Leuven), ‘Between diplomacy and solidarity: West European support networks for Sandinista Nicaragua’


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