Our project is no longer active. These are our events between 2013-2017.

History Teachers Network

27 June 2017 | Meeting

Following a successful first meeting late last year, the History Teachers Network will convene again on 27 June at 6pm in Room 541, Malet Street, Birkbeck College, WC1E 7HX to discuss developments and plans for the academic year ahead. The evening will provide an opportunity to meet over a glass of wine, discuss plans for the network and enable the project team to learn more about teaching pressures, experiences and resources.

In addition, we are currently working with a web development team to create a new website for teaching the history of internationalism. This will include nine ‘chapters’ providing a historical overview, descriptions of key terms, links to further resources, podcasts and image galleries for use in teaching. We hope to present a selection of these resources and gather feedback at the meeting.

To register your interest in attending, or for any further information regarding the network, please email reluctant.internationalists@gmail.com

Between Fact and Fiction: Refugee Narratives in Children’s Literature

9 June 2017 | Workshop at Birkbeck College, University of London

This one-day inter-disciplinary workshop on the theme of refugee narratives in children’s literature, will bring together a number of children’s authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers and academics to think about the role of children’s literature as a vehicle for refugee stories and voices. The day will comprise of three sessions grouped around the different perspectives of people creating, selling and using children’s books. Throughout, the workshop will consider possible collaborations between academic researchers (including historians) and fiction writers and illustrators.

The event is free and open to all but spaces are limited and booking is essential. Please reserve a place here. Further details of the workshop programme are available here.

Languages of Internationalism

24-26 May 2017 | Conference at Birkbeck College, University of London

Scholars have in recent years re-energized the study of how peoples, cultures, and economies came, over time, to be linked and entangled across all manner of borders. Transnationalism and internationalism continue to be the watchwords of much humanities and social sciences scholarship. Yet insufficient attention has been paid to the crucial politics of language in historical scenarios of internationalism as a lived or imagined human enterprise. Organised by the Reluctant Internationalists research group at Birkbeck College London in collaboration with Dr. Brigid O’Keeffe from Brooklyn College, CUNY, this conference will bring together historians, anthropologists, literary scholars, linguists, and scholars in related fields, to debate the languages of internationalism.

The goal of the conference is to shed light on the centrality of language to people’s past pursuit and experience of internationalism. Historians must better understand the linguistic realities that their subjects confronted in their various global networks and endeavors. For any agents of internationalism, language presented a wide variety of challenges and opportunities. It imposed obstacles and provided avenues to mutual understanding and collaboration among diverse peoples. The relative successes and failures of past internationalist projects in large measure owed to participants’ ability to effectively communicate across not just linguistic, but also political, cultural, economic, and professional boundaries. This fundamental and literal question of (mis)communication has dramatically shaped the lives of peoples variously confronting the global realities or pretensions of their milieus.

Conference participants will consider the frustrations and triumphs of human beings, in a wide variety of historical contexts, as they deployed language in their efforts to communicate across borders. In this way, the conference seeks better historical appreciation and understanding of language as a linchpin of transnational and international histories.

View the conference programme here. The conference is free and open to all, however spaces are limited and booking is required. Please reserve a place here.

Refugees and Children: Writing, Exhibiting and Depicting Refugee Stories for Children

3 March 2017 | Workshop at Birkbeck College, University of London

This one-day inter-disciplinary workshop, hosted by the Reluctant Internationalists project at Birkbeck College, examines how both historical and contemporary stories of refugees can be told to and interpreted for children.

The workshop will bring together children’s authors, illustrators, publishers, museum professionals and academics to consider the ways in which different disciplines depict the stories of refugees for children. Throughout, the workshop will think about how refugee narratives are written, exhibited and delivered to children.

Three sessions will engage with particular media (chiefly, books and museum exhibits). The final part of the workshop will give children’s authors and illustrators the opportunity to present current projects and receive ideas and feedback from the range of professionals participating in the workshop. Further details of the workshop programme are available here.

Socialist Internationalism

Conference at Birkbeck College, University of London

Research on the global history of socialism has been growing, but the majority of narratives and frameworks for approaching the history of the so-called ‘socialist world’ are still focused on the relationship of the United States and the Soviet Union. The aim of this day of discussion is to take stock of recent historical contributions that shift focus away from the superpowers and from Washington and Moscow, and instead consider the circulation of ideas, goods, people, and practices within and beyond the socialist and communist worlds on their own terms. Which conventional Cold War concepts does taking a global approach to the history of socialism and communist reinforce, and which does it contest? What are the conceptual and methodological challenges of constructing an alternative history of internationalism from a global socialist perspective? Was there such a phenomenon as ‘socialist globalisation’ and what did it entail in the context of the Cold War and decolonisation? How do we understand the global boundaries and exchanges between the communist world in the East and the institutions of (non-communist) socialist internationalism in the West? How does shifting perspectives away from the US-Soviet binary change our understanding of socialist networks? To what extent can we leave the view from the West behind?

The conference programme is available here.

History Teachers Network

22 November 2016 | First meeting

The Reluctant Internationalists project is seeking to provide support for history teachers through the establishment of a History Teachers Network, to be based at Birkbeck College. This network is designed to provide an informal, social forum for secondary school teachers who are currently studying at Birkbeck or are alumni of the college.

The first meeting of the network will take place on Tuesday, 22 November at 6pm in the Dreyfus Room, 28 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ. This introductory meeting will provide an opportunity to meet over a glass of wine, discuss plans for the network and enable the project team to find out about your teaching, pressures, experiences, resources and any means by which we can make your studies more relevant to your professional lives.

To register your interest in attending, or for any further information regarding the network, please email reluctant.internationalists@gmail.com

Writing ‘Outsiders’ into the History of International Public Health:

28-29 October 2016 | A Working Symposium

Histories of the development of international public health in the twentieth century tend to be celebrations of achievements – whether the enrolling of an ever-widening number of nations in programs to improve health and prevent disease, the adoption of shared standards and measurements to track health status, or the circulation of health researchers and statesmen across national frontiers. Justified though it often was, the repeated sounding of trumpets may have relegated to the background “outsiders” in the international health arena. What impact, we wonder, would factoring in “outsiders” make to the way we write the history of international public health? What can close study of “outsiders” tell us about the international system of public health – its rules (written and unwritten), its reach, and its commitment to inclusiveness.

These questions will form the basis for discussion in a working symposium. Further details and the workshop programme are available here.

International London: Walking Tours

25 November 2016 | Part of Being Human festival

London can sometimes seem like it’s the centre of the world. In three historical walking tours we explore the city as the home of international projects.

Tour 1: Wartime London (25 November, 11am): Many governments-in-exile were based in London during WWII. This walk through Belgravia and Westminster explores the physical proximity of exile and British politicians. This tour will meet outside 43 Eaton Square, London, SW1W 9BD.

Tour 2: Epidemic London (25 November, 1pm): This tour through Bloomsbury explores responses to global epidemics, which in turn shaped international epidemic management. This tour will meet outside the entrance of The Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, NW1 2BE.

Tour 3: Communist London (25 November, 3pm): London was far more important than Moscow in the international socialist and communist movement before 1917. This walk through Soho explores the base of leading activists and highlights London’s links with continental Europe. This tour will meet outside Queen’s Theatre, 51 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 6BA.

This event is part of the University of London’s hub programme entitled ‘Ministry of Hope and Fear’ for Being Human 2016, a UK-wide festival of the Humanities.

Crossing Borders: The Spanish Civil War and Transnational Mobilisation

7-8 July 2016

In summer 2016, Birkbeck played host to a two-day conference on the international history of the Spanish Civil War. Bringing together over thirty scholars from the UK, Europe, the US and further afield, the conference set out to explore the origins and experiences of transnational mobilisation during the conflict and the immediate post-war period. A full report of the conference can be read here.

Conference Website

Aid to Armenia: Armenia and Armenians in International History

3 June 2016

The centenary of the Armenian Genocide in April 2015 attracted media coverage and prompted a number of academic conferences that focused on the history of Ottoman Armenians. The experience of genocide and its denial have profoundly shaped the history of Armenia and the Armenians. This has frequently led to narrowly national approaches where questions of violence, survival, and denial have isolated the history of Armenia and the Armenians from broader historical contexts. Recent contributions to the field of Armenian history have complicated the previous literature by contextualizing the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath within international and global history.

This workshop builds on these recent developments, focusing on local and international responses to the fate of the Ottoman Armenians between the end of the 19th century and the interwar years. Examining the consequences of Armenian displacement, the variety of humanitarian interventions to aid Armenian refugees, and the changing articulations of Armenian nationhood which followed in their wake, we suggest, provides a vantage point from which to address pivotal themes in modern history such as peace, humanitarianism, reconstruction, and sovereignty. Geographically, we are interested in papers that address or connect the experiences of Armenians in the Caucasus, Anatolia and the Near East and diaspora communities in Europe, the Americas and beyond. This workshop is addressed to historians, as well as anthropologists, sociologists, lawyers, and scholars in comparative literature interested in the history of Armenia and Armenians from a transnational perspective and connecting this contested past to broader themes in modern history.

Further details of the workshop and the programme can be viewed here.  Please address any queries to Francesca Piana (francescapiana26@gmail.com) or Jo Laycock (J.Laycock@shu.ac.uk).

Conference: After the End of Disease

26-27 May 2016

Click here for Call for Papers

Workshop: Debating the Cold War

4-5 February 2016

This workshop will bring together historians studying the Cold War to debate some of the ‘myths’ of the Cold War, to reflect on current developments and explore future directions in the historiography. The discussions will then assess their implications for research and teaching.

The workshop programme can be viewed here.

Thinking about Health and Welfare in (Eastern) Europe and Beyond

1-2 July 2015 | Joint Network Meeting | Birkbeck College, University of London

Co-organised by the German Research Foundation Network ‘Social Welfare and Health Care in Eastern and Southeastern Europe during the Long 20th Century’ (Regensburg University, Germany) and The Reluctant Internationalists (Birkbeck, University of London) this joint network meeting will discuss the current research of each group’s members, with a special emphasis on sources related to health and welfare. Further details and the programme are available here.

Homecomings: Experiences and Narratives of WWII resistance veterans and the construction of postwar Europe

24-25 April 2015 | Birkbeck College, University of London

While historians of European resistance have primarily addressed the theme in isolated national contexts, this conference will explore the striking commonalities in veterans’ experiences across the divided European continent: why was it that resistance soldiers and veterans in so many different political settings, and both East and West of the Iron Curtain, reported a similar feeling of neglect, misunderstanding and betrayal? How can we explain the similarities in the way in which different European countries dealt with their resisters and veterans, and appropriated the narratives and memories of the resistance?

The Black Sea in the Socialist World 

6-7 February 2015 | Birkbeck College, University of London

This workshop brings together historians studying the Black Sea or whose work involves the Black Sea from a variety of perspectives and both historians of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. The objective of the workshop is to develop the idea of the Black Sea littoral as an international meeting place of the socialist world.

Agents of Internationalism

19-20 June 2014 | Birkbeck College, University of London

Co-hosted by Contemporary European History

This workshop is the first in a series of events organised under the umbrella of The Reluctant Internationalists, a four-year project which examines the development and institutionalisation of international collaboration in twentieth-century Europe.