TransnationalDisruptions - HeaderImage


Transnational Disruptions: decline, renewal or change?

Hosted by the Department of International History

Fawcett House, 9th Floor, Room 4, LSE, United Kingdom


Dr Charlotte Riley

Dr Charlotte Riley


Professor Gopalan Balachandran

Professor Gopalan Balachandran

Graduate Institute Geneva


LSE History Graduate Conference 2020 - organised in association with the UCL Centre for Transnational History

The objective of this conference was to examine disruptions across transnational spaces concerning global matters such as conflict, migration, diplomatic world orders, impact of international organizations, knowledge-sharing, and more. Our panels were meant to investigate historical moments of decline, change and renewal and analyse how political, economic and social disruptions inform the present.

Opening Keynote Address

Charlotte Lydia Riley is lecturer in contemporary British history at the University of Southampton. Before this, she taught at the University of York, LSE and UCL. Her research explores the way that British political culture and society was affected by decolonisation and the end of empire. More broadly, she is interested in questions of British identity, and how history is used to construct national myths and narratives of belonging and exclusion. 

Closing Keynote Address 

Gopalan Balachandran teaches International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. His research engages South Asia and the Indian Ocean in a global frame and spans labour, capital, entrepreneurship and development. He is also interested in histories of colonialism and decolonisation, and their continuing significance for the present. Professor Balachandran’s current research focusses on cultures of commerce in the Indian Ocean and Atlantic worlds. His books include John Bullion’s Empire: British Gold Problems and India between the Wars (1996, 2013, 2015); Globalizing Labour? Indian Seafarers and World Shipping, c. 1870-1945 (2012); and the Reserve Bank of India, 1951-1967 (1998). 

The conference was organised with the generous support of The London Arts and Humanities Partnership, the Economic and Social Research Council and the LSE PhD Academy.

Download the flyer [pdf]

The Department of International History (@lsehistory) teaches and conducts research on the international history of Britain, Europe and the world from the early modern era up to the present day. Sponsored by the Modern World History research cluster.

The UCL Centre for Transnational History provides a forum for research and graduate training in the field of transnational history across different departments and faculties of UCL, including the History Department, the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), and the departments of Anthropology, History of Art, School of European Languages and Cultures, and Science and Technology Studies and the Institute of Education. 


I. Nationalism, populism, and the Other

Today, academics have sought to understand the common thread in the rise of global populism. Starting as a nationalist rejection of multilateralism in the Global North, presently populism exists in every continent, expressing a variety of ideas. Each manifestation of nationalism/populism has unique characteristics, but share a common theme: the creation of an Other. This panel’s three papers explore a range of nationalist/populist expressions and their relationship with the Other, in English mercantile networks in the 1690s, the 2015 EU migration debate, contemporary Kashmir.

  • Constantin Eckner | University of St Andrews | Nations first: How European ‘migration regimes’ have been disrupted twice
  • Hugo Bromley | University of Cambridge | Understanding early populism; Opposition to globalisation among English clothiers, 1680-1720
  • Prateek Joshi | Oxford University | Abrogation of Kashmir’s Special Constitutional Status: Linkages with post-cold war international order


II. Empire, culture and development

Even in a post-colonial world, many societies in the global north still pedal stereotypes of women, the disabled, non-whites and other minorities or disadvantaged persons in the global south. While most wealthy nations and international organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations, believe they are assisting and aiding those less unfortunate, this panel assess whether or not these governments’ and institutions’ aid actually help developing nations or instead continue old-fashioned western cultural imperialism. By looking at both historical and modern case studies, the panel will also discuss the parallels and differences between international aid programs in the last hundred years, and whether or not that constitutes a disruption to the world order and the development of the global south.

  • Wonik Son | University of Cambridge | Constructing Global Disability: The Politics of United Nations Humanitarian Images, 1970s-1990s
  • Sandip Kana | King's College London | India’s technological turn: Technical education in the age of empire, 1880-1922
  • Varsha Venkatasubramanian | UC Berkeley | Damned If You Dam: The Rise of Environmental Opposition to Domestic and Foreign Dam-Building and the Effect on American Foreign Policy, 1960-1995
  • Wardah Malik | University of Cambridge | Western Cultural Imperialism or Advancing Women’s Human Rights? An Inquiry into Whether Secularism is a Necessary Condition to Comprehensively Practice International Human Rights Law.


III. Transnational intellectual networks

From civil disobedience to social revolution, dissent has rarely been contained (or containable) by state borders. Actors in pursuit of political change have near-always engaged in transnational activity, both practical and intellectual, to help further their cause, and this activity has frequently been key to strategies of resistance. Histories of dissent would therefore do well to make the transnational scope a part of their analytical toolkit. The three papers in this panel demonstrate how that might be done in the diverse historical cases of communism in the post-WWI Middle East, the Irish Free Trade Crisis of 1779, and Pakistan’s ‘1968’.

  • Burak Sayim | Graduate Institute Geneva | Transnational Communist Networks in the Post-WWI Middle East Anti-colonialism, internationalism and itinerant militancy
  • Joel Herman | Trinity College Dublin | Revolutionary Currents: Transnational News and Radical Transference in the Irish Free Trade Crisis of 1779
  • Meher Ali | Princeton University | Pakistan, 1968: Revolution and the “Global ‘60s”


IV. (Re)ordering the world

In the last five years, much has been written about the challenges to the post-World War II global order. While some have focused on the rise of revisionist powers that chipped away at the stability of the order, others have lent emphasis to its crisis of confidence, pointing at the widespread pessimism about “Western achievement”. These conversations miss an important point, however – which is that such debates are not only confined to the recent past. Thinkers, theorists, politicians and activists have formulated proposals for an alternative world orders throughout history. This panel explores four such theories that were put forward as a challenge to the contemporary modus operandi in the past two centuries.

  • Patcharaviral Charoenpacharaporn (Lily) | University College London | Panchsheel: a competing code of conduct in the international order?
  • Patrick Rummel | Philipps-University Marburg, Germany | ‘Revolution, not renewal!’ – Goldwin Smith, Little Englandism and the Victorian ‘empire of crises’
  • Rohan Niraj Shah | Columbia University | Contesting “Interdependence”: Globalization and Economic Crisis in the 1970s
  • Pete Millwood | LSE Fellow | Ping-Pong Diplomacy’s Return Leg: Remaking US-China Relations Through Transnational Sporting Diplomacy


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Banner: "Paper, newspapers, magazines" by Victor Perez - Pixabay, free licence



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