Organizing for Peace as Citizens of the World: The Transnational Politics of Women Leaders between the Wars, 1930–45

Thursday, January 5, 2012: 3:00 PM
Iowa Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Denise Ireton, Binghamton University (State University of New York)
The atrocities of World War I suggested a seemingly easy solution to the ethical dilemma of war—world disarmament.  But the postwar peace process proved challenging as diplomats, bound by national interests, brought their compromises to the international stage.  Not limited by national interests, transnational women leaders met in Geneva alongside the League of Nations during the 1930s.  This paper focuses on how these women created a space in Geneva for transnational exchange, a space to develop an intimate network of like-minded women, and a space to organize as international citizens to promote diplomacy and to end war.  The paper examines the relationship between these women as international citizens and the League of Nations as the world government.  It shows how women, like Paulina Luisi of Uruguay and Mary Dingman of the United States, navigated beyond and between national boundaries, organized through social movements, and debated with one another and with government officials how best to achieve world peace.  This paper is guided by several questions: Who controls the agenda in international politics?  What kind of authority did these women establish for peace, and what moral compromises were they willing to make to ensure world peace?  Moreover, how and why did they change the intergovernmental political system?  This project contends that these women, through their activism, established themselves as international citizens, asserting their responsibility to the interests of people beyond the boundaries of nation-states and, therefore, demanding the right to influence intergovernmental politics.
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