In the spring of 2020, the global crisis provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic upheaved the scholarly world. By now the dreary refrain is all too common: cancellation of conferences, workshops, book launches, physical fragmentation of the scholarly world from closing of national borders and the sudden disintegration of the arteries of our world; to the forced emptying out of our university classrooms and yards. For many of us, there has been a frantic scramble overnight to reorient pedagogies and the way entire courses are taught and delivered; and there has been the undeniable impact of the pandemic on early career scholars who now face a landscape of frozen searches, suspended funding, lack of access to archives etc. At the heart of this is an overarching series of anxieties for the globalized world so many of us study; one which defines our personal and professional lives. As if there was ever a clear division.

As the crisis unfolded, planning began in earnest on the inaugural seminar Global History and International Law. The goal was simple: to cross national borders now closed out of the insistence and the belief that the antecedents of global world matter, and the present can benefit from debating questions of world order historically. Even more, this seminar has been motivated by the insistence that globalization, empire, international law and humanitarianism are central not only to a generation of historians and lawyers, but to the pressing problems of our contemporary world.  The Global History and International Law seminar divides into nine separate sessions each of which explore the imperial origins of the world order and the changing forms of international violence: genocide, forced labor, slavery, sexual violence and the rise of humanitarianism. Through the spatial and temporal arc of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from the Global South to the former seats of empire – past and present – in Europe and North America.

I could not have embarked upon this project without the support of many people. First, I want to publicly thank the amazing group of scholars whose dedication and enthusiasm drove this project forward from start. Andrew Levidis was the best possible colleague and partner in pushing this initiative in global history forward at crucial moments. On the backend, Matthieu Toamain was ever generous of his time, and a passionate collaborator in providing the technical architecture of this website. 


Ann-Sophie Schoepfel

April 2020.