Saturday, August 25, 2012

Daniel Gorman's "The Emergence of International Society in the 1920s"

Daniel Gorman is Associate Professor of History and Political Science at the University of Waterloo and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. He is the author of Imperial Citizenship: Empire and the Question of Belonging (2007).

Gorman applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Emergence of International Society in the 1920s, and reported the following:
My book The Emergence of International Society in the 1920s is about how and why international cooperation deepened and intensified after the First World War, and the implications of this development for the British Empire and the practice of international governance. In writing the book, I was interested in trying to explain the origins of several ideas and institutions which are fundamental parts of our global world today. International sporting events, the normative prohibition against war, international humanitarian work, international feminism, an international criminal court, and other topics I address in the book feature daily in our newspapers and social media. W.H. Auden called the 1930s a “low dishonest decade,” a description which often colours the interwar period as a whole. The 1920s, however, saw many optimistic and determined efforts to prevent another war by fostering cooperation across borders – a very contemporary theme.

The Page 99 Test provides a fairly accurate reflection of these ideas. Page 99 of my book deals with the League of Nations’ campaign against the traffic in women and children, the period’s description of organized international prostitution. The League of Nations is usually remembered as a historical failure, a fair judgment given its flawed efforts to maintain international peace. It was much more successful, however, in providing a new international framework for addressing international social, economic, and humanitarian issues.

The League’s anti-prostitution work was organized by Dame Rachel Crowdy, a British nurse and the only woman to direct one of the League’s Sections. Page 99 contrasts Crowdy’s expansive vision of cooperative and humanitarian internationalism with British Foreign Secretary Austen Chamberlain’s guarded view of internationalism as but one tool amongst many for maintaining collective security. It then looks at how Britain tried to apply the League’s new anti-prostitution provisions to some of its Asian colonies. This is consistent with my book’s central argument that international society developed out of both international and imperial impulses in the 1920s.
Read an excerpt from The Emergence of International Society in the 1920s.

Learn more about The Emergence of International Society in the 1920s at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue