The United Nations features as a central protagonist in histories of internationalism, multilateralism, and international order. Conventional histories of the UN, however, tend to be Western-centric, often obfuscating the power, agency, and standpoints of non-Western actors in the making of the global order and the international system. Inspired by ever-louder calls to revisit and revise the historiography of the UN, this Global Governance Talk takes stock of the presences and absences featured in dominant historical narratives documenting the emergence of the UN and its evolution while charting pathways for writing alternative histories.
Departing from the omissions, exclusions, and silences that characterize UN histories, Alanna O’Malley will trace the invisible history within as well as between the Global South and the UN. If Global South actors first viewed the UN as a place and space to advocate for decolonization, they then transformed the structure and nature of the UN by advancing their agenda to make the North-South relationship more equitable.
Moving from the practice of historians to that of archivists, Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert will turn to the official archival collections of international organizations and the promise they hold for more inclusive and global accounts of the past. Through the example of the Total Digital Access to the League of Nations (LONTAD) project, digitization will be explored as a lever for decolonizing histories of multilateralism, global order, and the UN.
Alanna O’Malley, Associate Professor of International History, Leiden University
Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert, Head of the Institutional Memory Section, United Nations Library Geneva
Amalia Ribi Forclaz, Associate Professor of International History and Politics, Geneva Graduate Institute
Annabelle Littoz-Monnet, Professor of International Relations/Political Science and Director of the Global Governance Centre, Geneva Graduate Institute