Social History Society: Conference Strand on Global and Transnational Approaches

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.


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. Continue reading

Journal of Modern European History (themed issue on humanitarianism)

The latest issue (vol. 12, no. 2) of the Journal of Modern European History is dedicated to ‘Ideas, Practices and Histories of Humanitarianism’.  It comprises seven articles and is guest-edited by Charlotte Alston and Daniel Laqua (the author of this blog post).

If your institution subscribes to the journal, you can access the articles online via this link. As you may gather, the first and final pieces on the site are separate articles – i.e. they are not part of our ‘humanitarian’ cluster.

For the benefit of the HHR blog’s readers, I shall offer a few comments on the content. You are also welcome to download our flyer (JMEH – Humanitarianism issue), which provides you with a handy overview. Although the pieces cover a considerable time span – from the early nineteenth century to the 1970s – they address overarching issues and questions. A particular focus is on European actors and the motivations that underpinned the adoption of specific causes.

Continue reading