CANCELLED: Academic Disciplines between Remaking Europe and Shaping International Institutions, 1945–80

AHA Session 246
Monday, January 5, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:30 AM
Gibson Suite (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Samuel Moyn, Harvard University
Todd Shepard, Johns Hopkins University

Session Abstract

Post-1945 Europe was a long time in the making. Interwar developments continued to cast their shadows even after the presumed rupture that was ‘zero hour.’ East and West, too, did not take on political or geographical reality immediately, and within these units, people’s lived experiences differed vastly across individual countries. Several decades later, decolonization yet again redrew Europe’s boundaries and reframed the question of citizenship across the continent. In this drawn-out process of making and remaking Europe, experts played a crucial but little acknowledged role. While they often had enormous impact on domestic policies, they also moved between international organizations, transnational academic networks, and different countries. This panel explores the role that experts from the disciplines of law, sociology, and economics played in these years, showing how their transnational disciplinary formation contributed to the new Europe that came about in the post-1945 decades. It shows, also, how these new insights and disciplinary protocols were translated from European experience into the international institutions that were so central to European and global governance during these years.

In focusing on expertise from various disciplines, the panel puts in conversation two important fields of current scholarship. The first, the history of ‘development,’ has so far been cast primarily as an encounter between the US and the Third World. As the panel shows, this history was multipolar. In the immediate postwar era, experts circled between Western European, Communist, colonial, post-colonial, North American, and international contexts. Post-1945 Europe was where many ideas about relief, aid, and economic and social modernization were first put to work. By telling the story of European expertise and its entanglement with international organizations, academic circles, and often, colonial experiences, the panel thus adds a European dimension and argument to this growing body of research. The second field this panel touches on, the history of European reconstruction, has benefitted from recent attempts to account for the fluidity of the post-1945 situation and to emphasize the legacy of interwar developments, which continued to cast their shadow even after the war. This panel contributes to these new histories of the post-1945 years, enriching them with a new emphasis on the role of neighboring disciplines for understanding historical processes and arguing for the importance of scientific, institutional, and, non-governmental internationalism in European history of the period.

See more of: AHA Sessions