My drawers are full of projects. One of them is a comparative history of Western European minorities during the interwar period. It was led by Dr. Emmanuel Dalle Mulle from 2017 to 2022 and was achieved with the publication of a volume entitled: Sovereignty, Nationalism and the Quest for Homogeneity in Interwar Europe, (New York: Bloomsbury, 2023).
A second project gathers a group of advanced students and colleagues of the universities of Lausanne and Geneva. We work on the history of the Rockefeller Foundation fellows and fellowship programs (1920s-1970s) (see below). This project allows the team to work on the professional trajectories of fellows funded by philanthropic foundations, and me in particular, to research the history of international public health as well as the history of state- and nation-building.
Over the years I developed an interest for public history and with some friends we started Utopia3 (www.utopia3.ch) a project and a start up that has a lot to do with my personal engagement for human rights.
I have a longstanding commitment to the HION, History of International Organisations Network, www.hion.ch.
A further project in my drawer is on the history and politics of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the 1960s-and-1970s, at a time when decolonisation wars were rife, war in the Middle East recurrent and detention conditions appalling in several countries around the globe. Another project is on the history visual cultures and politics of international organisations.
The Myth of Homogeneity
Minority protection and assimilation in Western Europe, 1919-1939
Emmanuel Dalle Mulle
with PhD candidates Mona Bieling and Alessandro Ambrosino
‘The Myth of Homogeneity: Minority Protection and Assimilation in Western Europe, 1919–1939’ is a Swiss National Science-funded research project hosted at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. The aim of this research is to acquire a clear and in-depth picture of the history of the relationships between national minorities and majorities in Western Europe during the interwar years through the analysis of patterns of minority protection and/or assimilation. The project entails a multi-layered and multi-archival inquiry focusing on three case-study countries: Belgium, Italy and Spain.
The project revolves around three levels of analysis: government legislation concerning minority protection and/or assimilation and its enforcement; sub-state national minority mobilisation, or lack thereof; transnational and international interactions between state and non-state actors dealing with the issue of national minorities. It is multi-archival because it relies on a wide range of government, international organisations, and diplomatic archives as well as regional, international and transnational repositories. Moreover, despite including an analysis of the minority regime built around the League of Nations in the interwar years, the research will not be limited to that international organisation. This would be a gross mistake as Western minorities did not fall under the jurisdiction of the League’s Minorities Section and, in any case, the League ultimately enjoyed very limited latitude without the support of the Great Powers. For these reasons, other actors and repositories will be taken into account at different levels: government and civil society, centre and periphery, domestic and international.
The objective is to contribute to the existing literature revising the widely held assumption of national homogeneity in Western Europe during the period under study, an assumption furthered by the then prevalent tendency of Western governments to ignore their own minority issues while, at the same time, imposing legislative constraints concerning the protection of national minorities on the new states emerging from the dissolution of the Central and Eastern European empires. The goal is not at all to suggest that minority issues in Western Europe were the same as those in the Eastern part of the continent. It is rather to inquire into the specificities of minority-majority relations in Western European countries in order to provide material for a better-informed and scientifically grounded comparison with the situation in Eastern Europe. The relevance of the project goes beyond the academic need to fill a lacuna in the existing literature. At a time when Western Europe is confronted with strong separatist demands and centrifugal forces, it is necessary to question national homogeneity and to acquire a better understanding of the historical evolution of majority-minority relations.
Rockefeller Fellows as Heralds of Globalization
The project “Rockefeller Fellows as Heralds of Globalization” critically explores processes of globalization (or the lack thereof), using the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship Program (1917-1970) as a point of entry. The program awarded over 17,000 fellowships (or scholarships) to scientists and practitioners from over 88 countries and a variety of disciplinary fields including natural and social sciences, medicine and humanities. They were trained with the intention to contribute to modernization processes in the respective home countries. The aim of this program was to build stable national government, a peaceful international system and to create open markets and prosperity for humanity.
Our objective is to raise awareness from Geneva, the international capital of Human Rights, on a number of activities and reflections on human rights and the economic, social and solidarity transition.
To this end, Utopia3 makes the most of three complementary channels to reach as many people as possible: podcasts, arts events and the design of events devoted to human rights.
history of International organisations network
The HION Group was founded in Geneva in Autumn 2008 by Professors Sandrine Kott (University of Geneva), Daniel Palmieri (ICRC) and Davide Rodogno (Graduate Institute). In 2013, Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert (UN, Institutional Memory Section) joined the Group. In 2020, Dr. Véronique Stenger (University of Geneva) joined the team and worked on the modernization of the site in collaboration with Reto Steffen, our web developer.
HION aims at uniting the many researchers working on the history of international organizations and promoting collaboration between researchers, archivists of international organizations, and international civil servants. The history of international organizations is a relatively new research field, and no obvious national or international society or institution exists yet to promote and coordinate these dispersed research activities. The HION website seeks to fill this gap by becoming the pre-eminent virtual forum for researchers, archivists, and the growing number of scholars and PhD students worldwide working on topics related to the history of international organizations to keep in touch with one another.