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Scholarly identities in war and peace: the Paris Peace Conference and the mobilization of intellect*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 October 2016

Tomás Irish*
Department of History, Swansea University, Wales, UK E-mail:


This article analyses international scholarship of the early twentieth century by focusing on scholarly networks and the uncomfortable interplay between their claims to universalism and the realities of an international war with global dimensions. Academics, books, and ideas had traversed the world with relative ease and regularity from the mid nineteenth century. The consequences were the creation of a hierarchical and Euro-American dominated ‘academic world’ where mobility and the transnational transmission of knowledge were key features. The rupture of the First World War tested the durability of these connections but the Paris Peace Conference showed that scholarly connections – through shared disciplinary interests, alumni groupings, or mutual acquaintance – were not only durable but sometimes crucial to the recasting of the world envisaged by the peacemakers. While the scholars present at the Paris Peace Conference were there as representatives of their respective nations, they also demonstrated strong allegiance to disciplines and institutions.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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The author would like to thank Simone M. Müller and Heather Ellis for their comments on earlier drafts of this article, as well as for organizing the Actor Networks between Global Markets and the Nation conference in Berlin in 2013, from which the article emerged. The author is also grateful to the editors of the Journal of Global History for their comments on earlier drafts, as well as to the two anonymous JGH reviewers.


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