The aim of this project, hosted by UCL’s Centre for Transnational History, is to explore the genealogy of ideas of world order with a focus on the theme of war. Looking at a period from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, contributors are invited to recover connections between cosmopolitan ideals and the social history of major international conflicts such as the Seven Years’ War, the Napoleonic Wars, the two World Wars, and the Cold War.
The project consists of three parts:
a virtual panel, to be launched in January 2014
a cultural event curated by David Owen Norris, to be presented live and on digital radio on 1 May 2014
and a conference hosted by UCL’s Centre for Transnational Studies on 1-2 May 2014.
Using a nuanced understanding of war as a cultural phenomenon opens up prospects for revisiting Enlightenment cosmopolitanism – typically associated with peace – through an unfamiliar lens. Wars produce literary genres and cultural forms of their own; they not only destroy, but also create new connections between ideas and people; they also provide a reservoir of traumatic memories from which new ideas of political order arise. The intention is to give some thought to the connection between cosmopolitan orders and the changing use-value of the term ‘cosmopolitanism’ itself: in the pens of the Enlightenment philosophes, it ranged from political universalism to anti-imperial pluralism; among nineteenth-century nationalists, it was used to promote or defend national causes; in the twentieth-century totalitarian states, it was associated with Jewish identity, and in the post-Cold War world, it is variously associated with the ‘one’ as well as with the ‘ninety-nine percent’, with dictatorship as well as with democracy.
Vasily Vereshchagin, “The Apotheosis of War” (1871, oil on canvas, 127 x 197, held at the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)
Dina Gusejnova (UCL-History)
Axel Körner (UCL-History), Susan Morrissey (UCL-SSEES), Georgios Varouxakis (Queen Mary)
For more information, please write to postwarcosmopolitanism at gmail.com.
This project is supported by the Leverhulme Trust, Ceelbas, the European Institute, the Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies (FIGS), UCL Grand Challenges Intercultural Interaction, and the Centre for Transnational History at UCL’s History Department.