Crossing borders with new Internationalism centre

First International conference on oral polio vaccine at PATHO Headquarters in Washington DC, 1959. (Photograph by Cameramen Incorporated. Sabin Archives)

The Centre for the Study of Internationalism has formally launched, as a new home for a lively community of researchers from a range of disciplines (from history to political science, law to linguistics and architecture to biochemistry) and at all stages of their careers, who share an interest in “internationalism” and questions about the make-up of our world.

And it certainly is a time for questions. As the news continues to be dominated by debates about the future of international organisations and the roles played by individual nation-states within them, we are as convinced as ever that there is plenty of work to be done for scholars of internationalism.

The Centre emerges out of conversations and collaborations begun during The Reluctant Internationalists research project, funded by a Wellcome Trust Investigator award and led by Dr Jessica Reinisch from the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology. This four year project studied international organisations and networks in 20th-century Europe through the lens of public health, medicine and medical science. It brought to light a history of overlapping and competing internationalisms built around a variety of political, cultural, religious, economic and linguistic factors that determined whether and how local actors thought or acted “internationally”.

The Centre takes a broad view to make sense of internationalism in its various guises, both in the past and the present. Indeed, internationalism can refer to a number of very different ideas and practices: the search for intergovernmental agreements and conventions; the practice of international assembly; the projection of national agendas across the globe; the transfer of ideas, resources, objects or people across national boundaries. These different models of internationalism each draw on different intellectual and political traditions, and in practice are shaped by different constellations of foreign policy objectives, economic policies, humanitarian concerns, and the priorities of self-governing professions.

The Centre seeks to facilitate wide-ranging dialogue and debate by organising workshops and seminars, and running a blog. We are happy to host external funders’ grant applications in relevant fields. Membership is drawn from across Birkbeck College and beyond – a full list of members and a selected guide to relevant publications and online resources is available on the Centre’s website.

You can also follow the Centre and its activities on Twitter and on Facebook or contact us via: centreforinternationalism@gmail.com.

Further information:

Centre for the Study of Internationalism

The Reluctant Internationalists

Department of History, Classics, and Archaeology

Dr Jessica Reinisch

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