The Department of Humanities of the University of Naples Federico II - in partnership with the Department of Research and Humanities Innovation of the University of Bari, the Department of Political and Social Science of the University of Bologna, the Laboratoire LIED of the Department of History of the University Paris Cité, and the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Teramo - is pleased to announce an open call for papers for the conference International advising as institution building. Transnational trajectories across the 20th century, to be held in Naples in February 2023.
Over the last years, scholars have devoted increased attention to the study of the transformations of the State in Western countries, particularly the study of experts who co-operated, and often replaced, political elites in the management of the increasingly large technical and administrative public apparatus, starting from the end of the 19th century, with tangible strength in the interwar years, especially after the Great Depression. Even if they worked in different national contexts, these experts shared a similar cultural milieu and increasingly closer direct relations, thanks to an expanding network of transnational institutions and bodies. Especially in the years following 1929 up to the 1960s, the expansion and the increased turn to international expertise supported economic and social development programs, that were mainly understood as institutional building processes.
We are well aware that biographies could break down all those categories that have traditionally been considered in a granitic and exhaustive way. In particular, we believe that the history and chronology of the Cold War do not take into account the continuities that existed beyond political systems, watershed events such as the war, and the building and reshaping of States following decolonization and civil wars. In short, a biographical approach could reaffirm the continuity of practices, not necessarily blocked by political events and changes. In doing so, we are conceiving this biographical approach as the studied use and collection of life documents, or documents of life, which describe turning-point moments in individuals’ lives.
By engaging in relationship networks, we will try to determine how international aid was built up by individuals through its organizational procedures, the employment of its policies, and its reception in developing countries. These individuals were able to manage these institutions, adapting them to contingent needs and local contexts. This was possible because these international institutions were established with the aim of developing “backward” countries, conceived as the result of a complex social process and not as entities defined by principles that were superimposed on actors. To this regard, there is a vibrant field of research on single case-studies that have revealed the usefulness of this approach. Just as an example, the profile of Raul Prebisch studied by Jimena Caravaca and Edgar Dosman, that of Lauchlin Currie studied by Elisa Grandi and Roger J. Sandilands, or that of T.K.Whitaker analyzed by Vanessa Boullet. We are obviously not forgetting a key character such as DavidLilienthal, on which Steven Neuse has written a comprehensive biography in 1996.
Aiming to analyze the agency and the role of these transnational experts and mainly focusing on a relational approach, for our conference we seek papers that can speak (but are not limited) to the following questions:
- in which way do single actors effectively influence institutions' programs?
- what was experts' role in defining operative policies in field missions?
- what was the reception of experts' efforts in recipient countries?
- were they able (or not) to build an effective bridge between centers and peripheries of their agency?
- which role did their biographical paths have?
- how did they prove (or not) able to adapt to different and changing contexts and different political and institutional systems?
- did their belonging to a peculiar epistemic community play an effective role?
Please send a paper proposal of no more than 500 words, along with a 1-page CV, to Mario De Prospo (firstname.lastname@example.org) by June 25, 2022. The program committee will notify applicants by July 31, 2022.
The conference language will be English. A selection of the papers will be published in an edited volume/ special journal issue. Travel expenses will be covered and accommodation will be provided.
Michele Alacevich (University of Bologna)
Frédéric Attal (University of Valenciennes)
Elisabetta Bini (University of Naples Federico II)
Antonio Bonatesta (University of Bari)
Mario De Prospo (University of Bologna)
Elisa Grandi (University of Paris Cité)
Alessandro Iandolo (Harvard University)
Giuliana Laschi (University of Bologna)
Luigi Musella (University of Naples Federico II)
Simone Misiani (University of Teramo)
Carlo Spagnolo (University of Bari)