All current projects of the section History of International Relations. 

Holocaust Diplomacy: The Global Politics of Memory and Forgetting

After 1945, the memory of the Holocaust made its way into diplomatic exchanges. Mentions of the Holocaust were frequent, both in bilateral and multilateral diplomatic settings. But how and why did this happen, and with what consequences?

This project will blend an international historical approach with digital humanities methods to examine the involvement of national, transnational and international actors in shaping the international politics of Holocaust memory at crucial historical junctures during the 1945-2025 period. Challenging the traditional emphasis of the scholarship on Holocaust memory on ‘methodological nationalism’; and pointing to the silence of works on International Relations regarding the Holocaust and its legacy; this project will focus on a variety of actors and specific international arenas to analyze the process of Holocaust memory transmission within bilateral and multilateral diplomatic settings.

Using newly-declassified sources, the project will demonstrate that diplomats, museum curators, international organization staff and national bureaucrats were key ‘memory makers’ in the formative decades of Holocaust commemoration within international forums. Beyond simply implementing policy, they shaped it.

Wassenaar, 1952: Reinventing Reparations
  • Primary Researcher: Lorena De Vita
  • Student Contributors: Anouschka Witte, Dearbhla Reid, Bryony Harris, Sjoerd van Hoenselaar
  • Funding: KNAW Early Career Partnership Grant, Utrecht Young Academy, The Alfred Landecker Foundation.
Politics of State Secrecy: the Long Shadow of Authoritarianism on the Legitimacy of State Secrecy in France and Greece, 1945-2015

Since 2001, liberal democracies have increasingly defended themselves with secret means. Intelligence and security services have acquired more powers, more financial means, they have incorporated new bureaucratic allies, and new oversight and control mechanisms. Yet, democratic secrecy remains paradoxical: modern state secrecy has effective or associative roots in autocracy rather than democracy. Such roots are at the heart of recurring, sweeping crises of legitimacy of intelligence communities. Why is state secrecy more legitimate in certain circumstances than in others?

  • Researcher: Eleni Braat
  • Funding: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • Duration: 2020 – 2025
The Forgotten Peace? The Lausanne Peace Conference and the new Middle East, 1922-23

'The Forgotten Peace?: The Conference of Lausanne and the New Middle East, 1922-23' is intended to mark the centenary of the conference and the concluding treaty. Despite being “the longest lasting and most successful of the post-First World War settlements” (Keith Jeffrey and Alan Sharp) the Lausanne Conference has received considerably less attention from scholars. The organisers see the upcoming centenary less as an opportunity to provide a “missing” equivalent to existing studies of Versailles, however, and more as an opportunity to transcend traditional diplomatic history, reintroducing non-state actors such as multinational companies, banks, political parties, NGOs and the media. Lausanne shifted borders and unleashed unprecedented population exchanges, but it also changed how capital, goods and information moved between east and west, as well as within the Middle East region. The edited volume that comes from this project will be published by the Gingko Library in 2022.

  • Researchers: Ozan Ozavci and Jonathan Conlin
  • Funding: The Gingko Library (London); the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon)
  • Duration: 2018-2023
Consumers on the March: Civic Activism and Political Representation in Europe, 1970s to 1990s

This research programme advances the argument that the expansion of the global consumer economy since the 1970s, the rise of new public interest groups and new conceptions of participatory democracy have transformed European governance in important ways that have until now remained unexplored. The first paradigm shift, this programme postulates, is the transformation of the European Community (EC) from a project of common market and trade policy to one of consumer participation and protection. This change has allowed transnational NGOs, such as consumer groups, to enter the European political arena. The second hypothesis is that this has substantially impacted the understanding of democratic legitimacy: individual consumers rather than economic interests and social classes became the new focus of European policy-makers; by including consumer organisations in the policy-making process, they sought to bolster their legitimacy. Against this backdrop the present research poses the following question: How has the involvement of consumer organisations changed conceptions and practices of public participation in European governance since the 1970s? Through the prism of consumer politics, the project examines the representative claims of new and traditional interest groups and the extent to which they have changed the “rules of the game” of European policy-making.

  • Researchers: Liesbeth van de Grift
  • Funding: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • Duration: 2018-2023
The Dutch in the Early Modern World
The Dutch in the Early Modern World: The Rise and Fall of a Global Power
The Multilateralization of European Security: Conducting the Cold War through the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe

In the wake of the crisis in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea, ‘the question of war and peace has returned to our continent’, as several foreign ministers recently emphasized. With a ‘new Cold War’ seemingly in the offing, they appealed to salvage European security through multilateral, Pan-European diplomacy. This idea is far from new. This project aims to examine how the so-called ‘Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe’ (CSCE) contributed to a peaceful conduct of the Cold War and its conclusion.  This investigation is based on the working hypothesis that the CSCE led to the ‘multilateralization of European security’, and as such transcended the East-West antagonism. These findings will not only shed a new light on the CSCE as a historical process but can also teach us how to resolve international tensions through multilateralizing European security today. 

  • Researchers: Laurien Crump
  • Funding: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • Duration: 2017-2021
Blueprints of Hope: Designing Post-War Europe. Ideas, Emotions, Networks and Negotiations (1930-1963)

What is the idea of Europe? The image of European integration as a purely economic project is fundamentally incomplete. From its inception, European integration was always informed by moral ideas that allowed traumatised societies to face a new future. The pre-history and early years of European integration were in fact marked by intensive discussions about the future of Europe, encompassing a variety of blueprints for a new order.

Which ideas mobilised the elites and their target audiences, and which ideas fell short of being put into practice? This project places forgotten or lesser known blueprints in the limelight, and will analyse how they were conveyed, through various transnational, religious and political networks.

Securing Europe, Fighting its Enemies. The Making of a Security Culture in Europe and Beyond, 1815-1914

The ERC SECURE project examines the formation of a European security culture between 1815 and 1914. The project team compares seven security regimes that Europe applied around the world, in places as diverse as the Ottoman Empire and China.

These extremely dynamic regimes were motivated both by threats from anarchists factions, pirates and smugglers, for example, and by political, moral, colonial and other interests. Mobilising increasing numbers of professional ‘agents’ from various quarters – including police, judicial authorities and armed forces – they evolved from military interventions into police and judicial regimes and ultimately contributed to the creation of a true European security culture.

Uncovering and introducing new historical sources, the project pioneers a new multidisciplinary approach to the combined history of international relations and internal policy, aiming to ‘historicise security’.

The role of (Post)colonial Public Intellectuals in Europe: Figures, Ideas and Connections

The aim of this project is to investigate the role of ‘(post)colonial’ intellectuals in public debates in Europe and their impact on ideas of citizenship, governance and the public sphere. This research is an important contribution to the topic of institutions: the public intellectual is a key actor within the open society, influencing public opinion while operating on the periphery of formal politics.