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EPS Seminar Series - ARNAB DUTTA (UG): 'The League of Nations and a decentred/decolonial approach to studying international organisations'

When:We 06-12-2023 16:00 - 17:00
Where:Collaboratory B, Harmonie building

This event is part of the Seminar Series of the theme group European Politics and Society.


This talk provides a set of empirical and methodological reflections on the historical study of the League of Nations’ International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation ICIC, instituted in 1922) – a direct precursor to UNESCO and the first international organisation of its kind with an ambition to govern the global exchange of knowledge. By taking the case-study of the Indian members of the ICIC, the only members coming from a colonised country in an otherwise highly western organisation, I show how the international governance of scientific knowledge was framed, contested and negotiated within the broader contestation between universal knowledge on the one hand and racialised politics of colonial hierarchy on the other. Juxtaposing the formal institutional archival sources from the League of Nations’ Archives in Geneva with a wide array of alternative sources coming from the British intelligence/surveillance records about the Indian members of the ICIC (who were also at the same time, anticolonial nationalists) and private correspondence/ego-documents, I probe certain fundamental questions about the sources and methods of studying similar international organisations from the twentieth century.

If you would like to attend, please contact Martijn Schoonvelde (martijn.schoonvelde