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Assistant Professor in Global and International Studies (Boston College, Massachusetts, US)

For those TPF readers looking for an assistant professor position in global and international studies, the History Department at Boston College has announced the following job opportunity.  The call for applications explains more: The History Department at Boston College seeks to hire an Assistant Professor of Global or International History, who will hold a joint appointment…

Workshop: “Global Cultural Encounters (1750-1950)” (University of Michigan, August 2-4, 2017)

For readers of the Global History Blog, here’s a recent call for attendance at a workshop titled “Global Cultural Encounters (1750-1950)” at the University of Michigan on August 2-4, 2017. The workshop that will take place with the participation of many important scholars including Albert Wu, who was previously interviewed by the Toynbee Foundation. Sponsored by the Thyssen Foundation, the…

Of Prostitution and Port Cities: A Conversation with Liat Kozma

Dr. Liat Kozma

Prostitution may be considered the world’s oldest profession, but its practice and regulation has been far from fixed throughout history. As Dr. Liat Kozma explores in her most recent book, Global Women, Colonial Ports: Prostitution in the Interwar Middle East (2017), state-regulated prostitution in the Middle East—and the lives of prostitutes themselves—was directly influenced by major global shifts following World War I. These shifts included the transition from Ottoman to French and British colonial rule in the Middle East, as well as the ongoing processes of industrialization, urbanization, and large-scale migration set in motion in the nineteenth century.

Exploring prostitution through the regional lens of the Mediterranean—rather than through a political lens like that of a single nation or empire—Kozma innovatively dissects the many layers of state-regulated prostitution and the involvement of global and local institutions. From Casablanca to Beirut, Alexandria to Haifa, people, practices, germs, and attitudes toward prostitution and sexual practices migrated and spread during the interwar period.

Importantly, this story of the internationalization of prostitution regulation is far from one of top-down colonial policy-making. It involved a complex web of interactions and knowledge-sharing between individuals at every level, including actors from the newly created League of Nations, who sought to monitor traffic in women and children; colonial officials who shared policies maintaining racial boundaries between populations; local feminists, abolitionists, and medical doctors who wrote and debated about how to best prevent the spread of venereal disease; and individual prostitutes and brothel keepers who migrated to different cities in search of employment opportunities. As Kozma puts it, “the drunken sailor affected international policies on clinics that treated venereal disease, and international conventions affected the availability of care in his port of call.”

Kozma’s narrative telescopes in and out, between the local and the global; between the individual brothel keeper in Port Said and the League of Nations meetings in Geneva; between the syphilitic soldier and the history of Salvarsan. In doing so, Kozma sketches out a new model for writing global history—one that connects the dots between social history, women’s and feminist history, and Middle Eastern history.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Kozma, a senior lecturer in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. We talked about her research process for the book and her main findings about prostitution in the interwar period. We also discussed some of the broader challenges of writing a social and gendered history of a global phenomenon, the exciting potential of multi-archival research, and her recent work in bridging the divide between academic and non-academic audiences through social history.

–Caroline Kahlenberg

CFP: Comparative Abolition in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans (Leeds, UK, September 22-23 2017)

On September 22-23 2017, the Leeds Baines Group for the Comparative Study of Unfree Labour and the Working Group on Comparative Slavery will host a research conference in Leeds, UK, comparing abolition in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions. Proposals are due July 15th. The organizers write: The newly formed Leeds Baines Group for the…

Gerald D. Feldman Travel Grants for Transnational Study

Advanced PhD students working on transnational/transregional topics may be interested in applying for a Gerald D. Feldman travel grant. Areas for study include: China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Poland, Russia, Senegal, Turkey, USA. The supporting institutions explain as follows: Once a year, supported by the Peters Beer Foundation, part…

CFP: European Architectural History Network (Tallinn, Estonia, June 2018)

Researchers working at the intersections of global history and architectural history may like to participate in the fifth European Architectural History Network International Meeting to be held in Tallinn, Estonia during June 2018 by the European Architectural History Network. Please find the detailed call for session and paper proposals for the various sessions below: Abstracts are invited for…

Human Rights and the Global South: A Conversation with Steven L. B. Jensen

Dr. Steven L. B. Jensen

Human rights are facing perhaps their greatest challenge yet. After a failed military coup in July last year, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has led a purge of the country’s central institutions. A much-contested referendum in April only expanded Erdoğan’s stranglehold on the government. Over a similar timeframe, Erdoğan’s Filipino counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, has spearheaded a devastatingly brutal antidrug campaign, sanctioning the extra-judicial killing of thousands of suspected drug users and sellers. In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has imprisoned members of the political opposition, arrested human rights activists, and outlawed many aid organizations. Meanwhile, the United States—traditionally considered human right’s earliest and greatest champion—has seen the election of President Donald Trump. According to a tally compiled by Amnesty International, in just one hundred days in office, Trump threatened human rights in at least as many ways.

Viewed from today’s perspective, it might seem like it’s only recently that the US has ceded global leadership on human rights. But, as Dr. Steven L. B. Jensen shows in his book The Making of International Human Rights: The 1960s, Decolonization, and the Reconstruction of Global Values (2016), the history of human rights was never simply a story of American or Western hegemony. Moving the locus of study to Jamaica, Ghana, the Philippines, Liberia and beyond, Jensen argues that human rights were as shaped from within the Global South as they were from without. In Jensen’s words, actors from the Global South “gave a master class in international human rights diplomacy to both the Eastern and the Western actors.”

Many scholars struggle to connect with non-academic audiences. In his work and in his writings, Jensen straddles the border between academia and international policymaking with comparative ease. Currently a researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Jensen is the author and editor of multiple books and articles. Prior to completing his PhD at the University of Copenhagen, he worked in international development: first at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Southern Africa, and later for the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Geneva. His PhD thesis was published as The Making of International Human Rights last year. Since then, he’s been on something of a roll. Most recently, his book received the Human Rights Best Book Award and the Chadwick Alger Prize for the best book on international organization from the International Studies Association.

The Toynbee Prize Foundation was lucky enough to chat with Jensen during a recent visit to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jensen was in town to attend a workshop on socioeconomic rights convened by Professors Samuel Moyn and Charles Walton at Harvard Law School. Jensen spoke about human rights’ origins in the Global South, how exactly he came to be known as the “Jamaica guy,” and what the future holds for human rights scholarship.

Aden Knaap

CFP: Revising the Geography of Modern World Histories (University of York, 9-10 February 2018)

Readers of the Global History blog may consider participating in ” a forum to discuss the challenges and possibilities of writing multi-sited modern histories that encompass fully situated lives and local contexts”. Please find below the call for proposals from the organizers of Revising the Geography of Modern World Histories to be held in York, UK, from 9 to 10…

CFP: “Words that Kill,” American University of Paris Conference (Paris, 28-30 May 2018)

For scholars working on violence (both symbolic and material), see this call for papers for an interdisciplinary conference organized by The George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention at the American University of Paris: There is a continuum linking symbolic violence (in images, signs, stories) and physical violence. Social…

Call for Submissions: Global Histories, A Student Journal

Our graduate student readers should consider this exciting call for submissions for the journal Global Histories: Deadline: July 10th, 2017 In recent years, global history has become one of the most ambitious and promising strands of historical research. The approach targets relations, flows, and actors that challenge the assumption of the nation state as a natural…