F – Solidarities, internationalisms, and global movements

Internationalism and social policies since 1945: Contexts, actors, dynamics

Event Details

  • Date

    Friday, 26 June - 9:00 – 11:00

    Friday, 26 June - 14:00 – 16:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    F – Solidarities, internationalisms, and global movements
Convenor
  • Miguel Bandeira Jeronimo (University of Coimbra)
Chair
  • Alessandro Stanziani (École des hautes études en sciences sociales)
Commentator
  • Sandrine Kott (University of Geneva)
Panelists
  • Corinne Pernet (University of Geneva)
  • Miguel Bandeira Jeronimo (University of Coimbra)
  • Steven Jensen (Danish Institute for Human Rights)
  • Damiano Matasci (University of Lausanne)
  • José Pedro Monteiro (University of Coimbra)
  • Ljubica Spaskovska (University of Exeter)
  • Philip Havik (New University of Lisbon)

Papers

  • Corinne Pernet
    Developing Rural Youth: International Actors and Agricultural Education in Central America, 1950-1980

    Developing Rural Youth: International Actors and Agricultural Education in Central America, 1950-1980

    Educating “rural folks” to become more productive agriculturalists was a cornerstone of international development policies in the mid-20th century. In Central America, such policies were pursued by a number of international actors but were stymied by a multiplicity of factors: The Cold War context on the one hand gave such ventures much urgency, but on the other hand led major powers to support governments that showed only a modest interest in improving rural livelihoods and infrastructures. Yet from the late 1940s onward, agricultural extension efforts were multiplied and specifically addressed rural youth, which was supposed to help the region leapfrog into a more productive future. This paper links efforts for rural education conceived of in the global North and its transformation when applied in Central America and examines the intersecting campaigns of the plethora of international actors active in Central America. While FAO and UNESCO acted globally, regional partners such as the Inter-American Institute of Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA, Costa Rica) played major roles in mediating the different scales and cultural dimensions of rural education in Latin America. Drawing on conference reports, rural extension magazines, didactic material as well as theses by aspiring rural extension workers my research analyses the different approaches to educating rural youth, from focusing on farm mechanization to inculcating leadership and entrepreneurship to a focus on bringing about profound social change in the 1970s. This allows for a differentiated approach to the narrative of “dissemination”, as experiences on the ground fed back into institutional loops and knowledge production at the international organizations.
  • Miguel Bandeira Jeronimo
    Interimperial organisations and the internationalization of social policies (1940s-1960s)

    Interimperial organisations and the internationalization of social policies (1940s-1960s)

    In the post-WWII period, the claims over the savoirdévelopper were numerous, coming from diverse ideological and institutional origins, and dealing with multiple topics, from rural welfare to community development, from education to health and labour. Many were the competing arguments and plans to intervene about those topics in various geographic spaces. Among the international actors participating in the promotion of a developmentalist agenda with global impacts, two interimperial organizations were particularly active, sometimes cooperating, sometimes rivalling with the specialized agencies of the United Nations system: The International Institute of Differing Civilizations (INCIDI, 1949) and the Commission for Technical Co-operation in Africa South of the Sahara (CCTA, 1950). Associated to projects of imperial and colonial resilience in contexts characterized by mounting anti-colonial pressures, both organisations contributed to the growing internationalization of social policies, gathering numerous experts in various conferences, in Europe and in Africa, promoting the production and transfer of original knowledge, publishing diverse reports and enquiries with considerable reach, and even sponsoring specific interventions on the ground. Mobilizing primary, printed and archival, and secondary sources, this paper addresses their role, analysing some of their major meetings, key publications, and significant projects, taking the topics of education, ‘social’ and ‘rural welfare’ and labour as main observatories.
  • Steven Jensen
    Education, Human Rights and the Contested Mandate of the United Nations, 1948-1960

    Education, Human Rights and the Contested Mandate of the United Nations, 1948-1960

    In the post-1945 years social and economic rights proved to be critical enablers for advancing work on civil and political rights at the United Nations. The emphasis on social rights was supported by a larger engagement with “the social” as part of the new internationalism, including social policy, social welfare and social development. This had a direct impact on international human rights diplomacy where the right to education came to play an important role throughout the 1950s. Education was at the forefront of the UNs human rights during the 1950s. It emerged in the aftermath of the US and UK attempt in 1951-1952 to close down the UN human rights bodies. Responding to these threats of closure and curtailment, The UN Sub-Committee on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities under the UN Commission on Human Rights, developed an ambitious response to prove their worth and highlight the relevance of human rights for the international community. They made “Discrimination in Education” their main priority in these efforts. They took steps to prepare a global study on the matter during a time when the Bantu Education Act in Apartheid South Africa and the US Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education shaped the global debate on this matter. The Sub-Committee’s determined initiative laid the foundations for the flagship 1960 UNESCO Convention on Discrimination in Education and paved the way for a number of significant global expert studies on human rights and consolidated the foundations for international human rights work at the United Nations. The paper will study how education became the central focus for these processes and trends during the 1950s – a decade where international human rights work was still going through nascent, formative and uncertain stages.
  • Damiano Matasci
    Social Development in the village of Badiana, Senegal. The Global Entanglements of a Local Experiment (1953-1954)

    Social Development in the village of Badiana, Senegal. The Global Entanglements of a Local Experiment (1953-1954)

    In December 1953, the Senegalese professor and member of the Pedagogical Service of French West Africa, Amadou Mathar M’Bow, started a fundamental education experiment in the village of Badiana (Casamance region, Southern Senegal). M’Bow was accompanied by a small team of experts, which included teachers, doctors as well as specialists in agricultural and livestock farming issues. Their objective was to raise the overall living standards of village inhabitants. For over than three months, the team carried out a wide range of activities, ranging from literacy programs and medical activities to practical demonstrations of “modern” agricultural techniques. In February 1954, M’Bow and his colleagues left the village, and all activities were thus abandoned. The forgotten history of fundamental education’s projects in West French Africa deserves more attentive consideration. The Badiana experiment was part of a large attempt of French colonial authorities to promote economic and social development in order to reinvigorate the “civilizing mission” of colonialism in an age of “imperial crisis”. But fundamental education was also a global project, deeply linked with postwar “international development” policies and debates. Indeed, this concept was first designed by Unesco’s experts during several meetings that took place from 1946, followed by the implementation of pilot-projects in Haiti, China and Nyasaland in 1947. Against this background, French authorities were eager to demonstrate on the international and national sphere their commitment and expertise in this field, and thus launched several fundamental education projects in rural villages of West and Equatorial Africa starting from 1952. Focusing on the Badiana’s example, this paper aims at shedding light on the way localized and on-the-ground practices of social development in colonial Africa were linked to international and trans-imperial circuits of knowledge. It will focus on the (conflicting) relationships between French colonial authorities and Unesco as well as on the attempts to forge a “French doctrine” in fundamental education. The accent will also be put on daily-life activities during the Badiana experiment, and more particularly on the role of African staff in the shaping of « modernizing » ideas and practices that will be pursued after the independence of Senegal in 1960.
  • José Pedro Monteiro
    Between non-discrimination and decolonization: International institutions and social policies in the Portuguese colonial empire (1945-1975)

    Between non-discrimination and decolonization: International institutions and social policies in the Portuguese colonial empire (1945-1975)

    The social standards and policies in the Portuguese colonial territories changed little in the aftermath of World War II. In sharp contrast with other imperial formations, the enduring juridical, political and socio-economic, highly discriminatory, regime of the indigenato was only repealed in 1961. It was only after that date that, in theory, social policies became racially blind. Crucially, it was only after that that all legal modalities of forced labour were abolished. Three colonial wars ensued, being accompanied by efforts aiming at a “rational” transformations and uplift of “native” populations, a move profoundly connected to political, ideological and diplomatic efforts to resist decolonizing pressures. This paper analyses these processes by exploring the recurrent interactions between international and transnational actors and the Portuguese authorities. It focuses on the ways in which the former fostered juridical, political and social change in the empire, constraining the formulation and enactment of particular social policies, not without significant disputes. It does so by looking into the debates and the implications associated with three International Labour Conventions (on forced labour, on indigenous and tribal populations and on non-discrimination at work). This paper also shows that changes in colonial social policies shaped by international and transnational actors and institutions were given instrumental use by the imperial and colonial official mind with a view to strengthen its legitimacy, within and beyond imperial borders.
  • Ljubica Spaskovska
    ‘Infrastructure for co-operation’ – visions of internationalism and development beyond the Cold War divide

    ‘Infrastructure for co-operation’ – visions of internationalism and development beyond the Cold War divide

    The paper adopts both an institutional history and a life-story/biographical approach to analyse the evolution and change of the developmentalist paradigm and international development diplomacy, with focus on the period of the Yugoslav presidency over the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) between 1960–1982, which also saw the creation of the Yugoslav-based International Centre for Public Enterprises in Developing Countries (ICPE). The Centre, established in Ljubljana in 1974 as an institution for cooperation between developing / non-aligned countries, received assistance from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and its purpose and goals were aligned with the principles outlined in the 1974 UN ‘Declaration and Programme of Action for the Establishment of a New International Economic Order’. Both organisations were headed by career diplomats and economists from the Yugoslav war generation, members of the resistance and close collaborators of the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito. The paper maintains that the transnational intellectual and political interwar and WW2 networks the Yugoslav communists were part of are crucial for understanding their socialisation, political formation, as well as their visions and actions in the post-1945 period within their broader international engagements and in particular within the realm of the UN and Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The paper, thus, analyses the Yugoslav contribution to the institutional histories of the UN and the debates on cooperation and economic development. It also interrogates dominant Cold War narratives about capitalist vs. state socialist visions of development and seeks to recover the role and agency of lesser known actors.
  • Philip Havik
    International Cooperation in Health and Regional Networks: comparing trans-national trends in late colonial Africa

    International Cooperation in Health and Regional Networks: comparing trans-national trends in late colonial Africa

    The post-1945 period witnessed the emergence of regional agencies in sub-Saharan Africa which provided different platforms for cooperation. The Council for Technical Cooperation South of the Sahara (1950-1965) and the Regional Office for Africa of the World Health Organization (1951) operated as distinct models for intra-regional collaborations in health, based upon bilateral and multilateral principles respectively. The agendas for the debates and technical assistance they provided to member states and associate members strongly overlapped during the 1950s owing to the control exercised by colonial powers over their respective agendas. As the decade progressed, these organizations developed a working relationship based upon ‘gentlemen agreements’ between their respective executive officers. Thus a tentative division of labour was agreed upon for providing assistance in the field of public health and disease control, which was supposed to comply with the priorities set by colonial powers as well as UN agencies. The present paper addresses the tensions between these regional and international dimensions against the background of the changing political situation on the continent. It does so by taking a closer look at the different strategies pursued by countries such as Britain, France and Portugal in the CCTA and WHO-AFRO and their outcomes. It shows how and to what extent positions shifted over time, as countries reexamined the nature of developmental inputs and the potential of regional cooperation in health in an increasingly contested environment.

Abstract

In the post-WWII decades, social policies, understood in a broad sense, became increasingly subject of efforts and practices of internationalization (and transnationalization). Building upon ideas and repertoires of interwar internationalism (for example those elaborated at the League of Nations), the post-war debates on social policies were considerably shaped by the increasing institutionalization of international cooperation and regulation and by the related expansion of topics of interest and intervention. Gravitating around the newly-founded United Nations system, specialized agencies dealing with subjects such as education and culture, health, labour, standards of living, economic and social development, human rights, agriculture and food, and many others, multiplied. Related experts and expertise diversified, and circulated globally. Ideas, definitions, plans, models, schemes and assessments were shared, appropriated, negotiated, modified, or rejected (but even in this last case they were nonetheless acknowledged, explicitly or not, as part of an international discourse that was impossible to ignore). They were also nationalized, filtered by ideologies, political cultures, traditions of statecraft, and other historical specificities. These processes of ‘nationalization’ would, in return, echo in international debates about the most exportable models to be implemented. In Geneva or New York, “social” standards and norms were tentatively defined, establishing grounds for comparison and differentiation, for political use and technical assessment. The same happened with pilot interventions led by the UN and its “technical” agencies at a global stage. The emergence, consolidation and, later on, institutionalization of developmentalist worldviews and ethos was one of the important manifestations of these processes. The savoir-développer– focused on political, economic and social dimensions – became internationalized, turned into a common currency in many agencies and forums, and was fertilized by many actors and institutions competing for the right concept, the proper plan, and the appropriate intervention, within and outside the UN regime, with different aims. This panel critically addresses these topics, assembling contributions that analyse variegated social policies, from education to labour, science or agriculture, connecting them to diverse international dynamics, including of an interimperial nature, in different geographic spaces, from Latin America to Eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. They include, but move beyond, colonial and postcolonial divides and East-West distinctions, searching for continuity and change, differentiation, emulation and adaptation. The savoir-développer shaped late colonialism and the cold war global competition for “modernity” and “modernization” (which often intersected each other regarding the elaboration of models and programmes of societal change). They also look to social policies beyond strict national borders, therefore contributing to the fields of international, transnational andglobal histories. They do this without failing to focus on particular contexts and processes, articulating analytical scales. All these contributions, in varying degrees, tackle the question of how the design, implementation and critical evaluation of actual social policies were deeply conditioned, in many levels, by the circulation of ideas, repertoires and programmes (such as those regarding vocational training or fundamental education, for instance), and also by local cirucmstances. They also show how social policies were shaped by the exchanges between national, interimperial and international institutions, officials and experts (including private foundations directly engaged with specific social programs). Finally, they explore the ways allegedly strict technical-scientific arguments were in fact produced in highly charged political contexts, underlining the deep imbrications between social policies and claims of political legitimacy, often in adverse environments.