Druckfrisch – Globalisierungsstudien und europäische Geschichte: Global Civilizers? A Critical Look at the WHO and the History of International Organizations
Dr. Klaas Dykmann (Roskilde U)
|Date||Tuesday, 25 April 2017, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm|
|Location||Centre for Area Studies | Thomaskirchhof 20, 04109 Leipzig, Deutschland|
|Contact||Dr. Steffi Marung (SFB 1199) | firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Information||Internationale Organisationen und ihre Zivilisierungsbestrebungen. Die Geschichte der Weltgesundheitsorganisation|
In our present world, international organizations are often confronted with contradictory perceptions. Either they are seen as powerful managers of what is described as “globalization”, or they appear as paper tigers, not capable of resisting colossal economic actors and their projects or of defending rights and resources of less powerful players. Or, they are accused of being the mere instruments of hegemonic – often Western – nation states, and thus not representatives at all of “global governance” but rather of “empire”. These discussions and contradictions are rooted deeply in the histories of nineteenth-century empires, of twentieth-century decolonization, of the Cold War, and they have been fuelled through more recent debates about the reform of the United Nations system and the emergence and failure of “global governance”.
Hence, it is both of academic and of political importance to more thoroughly investigate their histories and trajectories and to enquire into questions such as where do the values and norms international organizations aim to promote and enforce come from? Which effects did decolonization and the emergence of many new nation states in the course of the twentieth century have for the role which international organizations play in a global world? Which kind of people work in international organizations and how do they shape their activities?
It is these types of questions that Klaas Dykmann addresses in his recent book, which demonstrates, on the one hand, how the emergence of international organizations in the nineteenth century was deeply intertwined with the history of Western empires and their civilizing missions. On the other hand, he argues that decolonization opened up new spaces of action for formerly subjected people(s), which coproduced the normative order of international organizations. With a specific look at one of the big players in the arena – the World Health Organization (WHO) – he investigates institutional trajectories as well as individual biographies of the people working in and shaping the outlook of the organization. The “civilizing mission” of the WHO has dramatically shaped many lives across the globe since the beginnings of its existence and it has received particular attention and criticism not only in the most recent Ebola or HIV crises in Africa but also with regard to global vaccination or breast feeding campaigns. Klaas Dykman can offer us an insight into the mechanisms inside the organization, helping us to better understand how the universal norms emerge that shape many individual fates.
Dr. Klaas Dykmann (Roskilde University, Denmark)
Dr. Klaas Dykmann is a historian and political scientist specializing in international organizations, inter-American and European foreign relations, global human rights, and the international civil service. Since 2010, he has been the associate professor for global studies at Roskilde University in Denmark, and since October 2016 a visiting researcher at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. As a fellow of the German Academic Exchange Service and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, he was awarded his PhD at the University of Hamburg in 2003. He taught and researched in the Americas, Europe, India, South Africa, and Australia. Between 2003 and 2005, he was a Thyssen fellow at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies in Hamburg and between 2006 and 2010 he worked at the Global and European Studies Institute at Leipzig University.
Dr. Katja Naumann (Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Leipzig University, Germany)
Dr. Katja Naumann is a historian specializing in the history of international organizations, the history of world history writing, and the history of transnational entanglements of and in East Central Europe. Since 2008, she has been a senior researcher at the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) in Leipzig and teaches global history at the Global and European Studies Institute at Leipzig University. She is the editor for the electronic journal Connections. A Journal for Historians and Area Specialists and an editorial assistant for Comparativ. Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und Vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung as well as chairperson of the European Network in Universal and Global History.
Image source: LIT Verlag, Link (13 April 2017)