Skip to main content

Conclusion: Beyond Liberal Internationalism


The contributors to this special issue have taken up the challenge of reconsidering some of the fundamental assumptions that have traditionally underpinned the history of internationalism. In doing so their articles (some more explicitly than others) have addressed two central questions: who were the internationalists and where was internationalism taking place? The answers to these questions seem deceptively simple. However, as the articles in this issue have demonstrated, agents of internationalism are as diverse in age, gender and social status as the fields in which they operate.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Conclusion: Beyond Liberal Internationalism
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Conclusion: Beyond Liberal Internationalism
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Conclusion: Beyond Liberal Internationalism
      Available formats
Hide All

1 Mandler, Peter, ‘The New Internationalism’, History Today, 62, 3 (2012).

2 Borowy, Iris, Coming to Terms with World Health: The League of Nations Health Organisation 1921–1946 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2009); Weindling, Paul, International Health Organisations and Movements, 1918–1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Chorev, Nitsan, The World Health Organization between North and South (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012).

3 Clavin, Patricia, Securing the World Economy: The Reinvention of the League of Nations, 1920–1946 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Sluga, Glenda, Internationalism in the Age of Nationalism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013); Mazower, Mark, Governing the World: The History of an Idea (New York: The Penguin Press, 2012); Laqua, Daniel, Internationalism Reconfigured: Transnational Ideas and Movements between the World Wars (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011).

4 Pedersen, Susan, The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); Rupprecht, Tobias, Soviet Internationalism after Stalin: Interaction and Exchange between the USSR and Latin America During the Cold War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Birn, Anne-Emanuelle and Brown, Theodore M., eds., Comrades in Health: U.S. Health Internationalists, Abroad and at Home (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013).

5 This paper draws on the work of The Reluctant Internationalists research group at Birkbeck College, see for more details (last visited 2 Feb. 2016).

6 Schiebinger, Londa L., Plants and Empire: Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004).

7 Müller-Wille, Staffan, ‘Linnaeus and the Four Corners of the World’, in Coles, K., Bauer, R., Nunes, Z. and Peterson, C., eds., The Cultural Politics of Blood, 1500–1900 (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015), 191209.

8 Moulin, Anne Marie, ‘The Pasteur Institute's International Network: Scientific Innovations and French Tropisms’, in Charle, Christophe, ed., Transnational Intellectual Networks. Forms of Academic Knowledge and the Search for Cultural Identities (Frankfurt: Campus, 2004).

9 Anderson, Warwick, ‘Making Global Health History: The Postcolonial Worldliness of Biomedicine’, Social History of Medicine, 27, 2 (2014), 372–84; Hodges, Sarah, ‘The Global Menace’, Social History of Medicine, 25, 3 (2012), 719–28; Mazlish, Bruce, ‘Big History, Little Critique’, Historically Speaking, 6, 5 (2005), 43–4; Armitage, David, ‘What's the Big Idea?’, Times Literary Supplement, 20 Sept. 2012; Magnússon Sigurður, G. and Szíjártó, István, What Is Microhistory?: Theory and Practice (Milton Park: Routledge, 2013).

10 Aslanian, Sebouh David, Chaplin, Joyce E., Ann Margaret McGrath and Kristin Mann, ‘AHR Conversation How Size Matters: The Question of Scale in History’, American Historical Review, 118, 5 (2013), 1431–72.

11 See Mazower, Mark, No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009); Manela, Erez, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

12 Sluga, Glenda, Internationalism in the Age of Nationalism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).

13 Deák, István, Beyond Nationalism: A Social and Political History of the Habsburg Officer Corps, 1848–1918 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).

14 Zahra, Tara, ‘Imagined Non-Communities: National Indifference as a Category of Analysis’, Slavic Review, 69, 1 (2010), 93119.

15 Wheatley, Natasha, ‘The Compass of International History: Eric Hobsbawm and After’, Journal of Modern European History, 11, 4 (2013), 427. An international dimension to ‘national indifference’ has been suggested in the section above.

16 Mazower, Mark, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century (New York: Vintage, 2000).

17 Yet as recent scholarship has demonstrated, the spread of socialism was often beyond the control of Soviet officials, as illustrated by the example of the Cuban revolution and aftermath, on which see especially Zubok, Vladislav, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

18 Applebaum, Anne, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944–56 (New York: The Penguin Press, 2012); Westad, Odd Arne, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). This is not to dismiss the significance of resistance to Soviet influence in these countries or to trivialise the cause of dissidents, or to deny the violence and coercion that the Soviets employed.

19 The definitive histories of the Second International remain Joll, James, The Second International: 1889–1914 (London: Routledge, 1974); and Haupt, Georges, Socialism and the Great War: The Collapse of the Second International (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972). More recently, interest in the theme has increased. See Snyder, Timothy, Nationalism, Marxism, and Modern Central Europe: A Biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz, 1872–1905 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997); Shore, Marci, Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation's Life and Death in Marxism, 1918–1968 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006); and Callahan, Kevin, Demonstration Culture: European Socialism and the Second International, 1889–1914 (Kibworth Beauchap: Troubadour, 2010).

20 See, for example, Pons, Silvio, The Global Revolution: A History of International Communism 1917–1991 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

21 Abrams, Bradley F., The Struggle for the Soul of the Nation: Czech Culture and the Rise of Communism (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005); Pittaway, Mark, The Workers' State: Industrial Labor and the Making of Socialist Hungary, 1944–1958 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012); Palmowski, Jan, Inventing a Socialist Nation: Heimat and the Politics of Everyday Life in the GDR, 1945–90 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

22 Mëhilli, Elidor, ‘The Socialist Design: Urban Dilemmas in Postwar Europe and the Soviet Union’, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, 13, 3 (2012): 635–65; Mëhilli, Elidor, ‘Socialist Encounters: Albania and the Transnational Eastern Bloc in the 1950s’, in Babiracki, Patryk and Zimmer, Kenyon, eds., Cold War Crossings: International Travel and Exchange across the Soviet Bloc, 1940s–1960s (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2014), 107–33. See also the special issue by Stanek, Lukasz and Avermaete, Tom, eds., ‘Cold War Transfer: Architecture and Planning from Socialist Countries in the “Third World”’, Journal of Architecture, 17, 3 (2012).

23 Hessler, Julie, ‘Death of an African Student in Moscow: Race, Politics, and the Cold War’, Cahiers du Monde Russe, 47, 1–2 (2006), 3363; Matusevich, Maxim, ‘Probing the Limits of Internationalism: African Students Confront Soviet Ritual’, Anthropology of East Europe Review, 27, 2 (2009), 1939; Kirasirova, Masha, ‘Sons of Muslims in Moscow: Soviet Central Asian Mediators to the Foreign East, 1955–1962’, Ab Imperio, 4 (2011), 106–32; Tromly, Benjamin, ‘Brother or Other? East European Students in Soviet Higher Education Establishments, 1948–1956’, European History Quarterly, 44, 1 (2014), 80102; Applebaum, Rachel, ‘The Friendship Project: Socialist Internationalism in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and 1960s’, Slavic Review, 74, 3 (Fall 2015), 484507.

24 On tourism, see Koenker, Diane P. and Gorsuch, Anne, eds., Turizm: The Russian and East European Tourist under Capitalism and Socialism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006); Gorsuch, Anne, All This is Your World: Soviet Tourism at Home and Abroad After Stalin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Koenker, Diane, Club Red: Vacation Travel and the Soviet Dream (Ithaca: Cornell Unviersity Press, 2013).

25 Petrescu, Cristina, ‘Entrepreneurial Tourism in Romania: A System-Stabilizing Factor?’ in Borodziej, Włodzimierz, Kochanowski, Jerzy and von Puttkamer, Joachim, eds., Schleichwege: Inoffizielle Begegnungen sozialistischer Staatsbürger zwischen 1956 und 1989 (Köln: Böhlau Verlag, 2010), 115. See also Bren, Paulina and Neuburger, Mary, eds., Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), especially the contribution of Mark Keck-Szajbel, ‘Shop Around the Bloc: Trader Tourism and Its Discontents on the East German-Polish Border’, in ibid., 374–92. See also the special issue devoted to consumer tourism in the socialist world, Cultural Studies, 16, 1, (2002).

26 Rachel Applebaum, ‘The Friendship Project’.

27 Behrends, Jan, Die erfundene Freundschaft: Propaganda für die Sowjetunion in Polen und der DDR 1944–1957 (Köln: Böhlau Verlag, 2005).

28 Young East Germans who attended the 1968 World Youth Festival were dismayed by the lack of knowledge of and enthusiasm for Marxist ideology among Soviet delegates, and came to the conclusion that they were the better communists. See Rutter, Nicholas, ‘Look Left, Drive Right: Internationalisms at the 1968 World Youth Festival’, in Gorsuch, Anne E. and Koenker, Diane P., eds., The Socialist Sixties: Crossing Borders in the Second World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012), 193212; Nicholas Rutter, ‘The Western Wall: The Iron Curtain Recast in Midsummer 1951’, in Babiracki and Zimmer, Cold War Crossings, 78–106.

29 Sanchez-Sibony, Oscar, Red Globalization: The Political Economy of the Soviet Cold War from Stalin to Khrushchev (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014); Baron, Nick, ‘World Revolution and Cartography’, in Monmonier, Mark, ed., The History of Cartography, vol. 6: Cartography in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 1766–70; Matusevich, Maxim, No Easy Row for a Russian Hoe: Ideology and Pragmatism in Nigerian-Soviet Relations, 1960–1991 (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2003); Jersild, Austin T., The Sino-Soviet Alliance: An International History (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2014); Kocho-Wiliams, Alastair, Russian and Soviet Diplomacy, 1900–39 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); and Kocho-Wiliams, Alastair, Russia's International Relations in the Twentieth Century (London: Taylor and Francis, 2012). See also the review by Hennings, Jan, ‘World Revolution and International Diplomacy, 1900–39’, in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, 16, 1 (2015), 204–10.

30 See, for example, Laqua, Daniel, ‘Democratic Politics and the League of Nations: The Labour and Socialist International as a Protagonist of Interwar Internationalism’, Contemporary European History, 24, 2 (2015), 175–92.

31 For a notable exception, see Mazower, Mark, Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (New York: The Penguin Press, 2009); for fascist Italy's project of building the new order in the Mediterranean, see Rodogno, Davide, Fascism's European Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

32 Herzstein, Robert Edwin, When Nazi Dreams Come True: The Third Reich's Internal Struggle over the Future of Europe after a German Victory (London: Abacus, 1982).

33 Motadel, David, Islam and Nazi Germany's War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014).

34 Salewski, Michael, ‘National Socialist Ideas on Europe’, in Lipgens, Walter, ed., Documents on the History of European Integration, Volume 1, Continental Plans for European Union 1939–1945 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1984), 37178; Harvey, Elizabeth, ‘International Networks and Cross-Border Cooperation: National Socialist Women and the Vision of a “New Order” in Europe’, Politics, Religion and Ideology, 13, 2 (2012), 141–58; George Martin, Benjamin, ‘“European Literature” in the Nazi New Order: The Cultural Politics of the European Writer's Union, 1942–3’, Journal of Contemporary History, 48, 3 (2013), 486508.

35 See Gutmann, Martin, ‘Debunking the Myth of the Volunteers: Transnational Volunteering in the Nazi Waffen-SS Officer Corps during the Second World War’, Contemporary European History, 22, 4 (2013), 585607.

36 Case, Holly, Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during WWII (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009).

37 Bernhard, Patrick, ‘Hitler's Africa in the East: Italian Colonialism as a Model for German Planning in Eastern Europe’, Journal of Contemporary History, 51, 1 (2016), 6190.

38 Kuchenbuch, David, ‘Architecture and Urban Planning as Social Engineering: Selective Transfers between Germany and Sweden in the 1930s and 1940s’, Journal of Contemporary History, 51, 1 (2016), 2239.

39 A similar argument has been made by Alan Milward for Western European states, for example, Milward, Alan, The Reconstruction of Western Europe, 1945–1951 (New York, Routledge, 2003); and Milward, Alan, The European Rescue of the Nation-State (Hove: Psychology Press, 2000).

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Contemporary European History
  • ISSN: 0960-7773
  • EISSN: 1469-2171
  • URL: /core/journals/contemporary-european-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 15
Total number of PDF views: 179 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 553 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.