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Visions of a new world order: anti-imperialist conferences, 1917-1960.


Admission requirements



In February 1927, over a hundred delegates from more than thirty different territories under colonial rule met in Brussels to found the League Against Imperialism. The meeting was attended by a diverse group of people, ranging from Albert Einstein and Dutch poet and socialist Henriette Roland Holst, to nationalist leaders such as Mohammed Hatta and Jawaharlal Nehru. It was not the first time such a group was meeting – nor would it be the last. Many long-distance networks had emerged in the aftermath of the First World War, the establishment of the League of Nations and the Bolshevik Revolution. Altough varying widely in their political and religious affiliations, these individuals and groups all sought new blueprints for a decolonized world of greater justice and equality. Many of these networks continued their meetings into the 1950s, bringing the same concerns and rhetoric of international solidarity and equality to bear on the post-war world, which included new issues such as the atomic bomb, the establishment of the United Nations, the Cold War, and rising tensions between and within decolonizing countries.

The meetings of these individuals and groups can be traced through the unique collections of the International Institute of Social History (IISH). After an assessment of pertinent secondary literature, students will use these records to gather information on the following questions: what brought participants to bridge great distances, often illegally, to attend these conferences? How was international solidarity created and performed at these conferences? How did the participants respond to the international upheavals of the early twentieth century; and how did these networks and meetings change (or not change) when the participants’ countries attained national independence? Gathering information both collectively and individually, students will each write an individual research paper based on their findings.

Course objectives

Students will gain an understanding of reach and diversity of internationally operating anti-imperialist networks in the first half of the twentieth century. They will learn to situate the history of these networks in the wider history of decolonization, along with the main historiographical debates related to it. Students will further learn to organize and execute collaborative research, besides carrying out their individual projects. In doing so, they will develop an understanding of the different ways in which historians can ‘read’ the available primary and secondary sources for writing the global history of anti-imperialism.


See here.

Mode of instruction

MA Research Seminar

Course Load

  • Seminar attendance: 28 hrs

  • Reading required literature: 100 hrs

  • Class presentations: 12 hrs

  • Research and research paper: 140 hrs

Total: 280 hours

Assessment method

  • Participation in class, presentations: 25%

  • Research paper: 75%



Reading list

To be announced.


via uSis.

Contact information

Email: C.M. Stolte MPhil.


Please note that this course includes sessions at the International Institute for Social History (IISH), Amsterdam.