Writing global intellectual histories: the body-political metaphor – Lecture by Serena Ferente (University of Amsterdam)

Amsterdam, 14 November 2023


Is global intellectual history possible and meaningful before modern globalising processes? What should be its object? This paper reflects on questions of method from a longue durée perspective and offers a preliminary examination of a long-standing political metaphor – the ‘body politic’.


Serena Ferente is full professor of Medieval History at the University of Amsterdam. She is a graduate of the Scuola Normale in Pisa and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. She received her PhD in History and Civilisation from European University Institute in 2007. From 2006 until her appointment at the UvA, she has been, successively, a lecturer, senior lecturer and reader in Medieval and Renaissance History at King’s College London. Ferente’s research focuses on Europe and the Mediterranean in the 14th to 16th centuries, particularly the history of politics and society in Italy, the history of European political discourse, and gender history. She is currently working on a book on the history of 15th century Europe and starting a project on the late medieval Black Sea as a primary border region of Eurasia.

A Global History of Basic Income – Lecture by Anton Jäger (KULeuven) and Daniel Zamora Vargas (Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Jointly organized by the Political History section of Utrecht University and the Research School Political History

Utrecht, 28 September 2023

Abstract and Biographies

Anton Jäger is a historian of political thought, interested in the interrelation between capitalism and democracy. More specifically, his work focuses on the question of how capitalism — here understood as a system of generalised market dependence — both enables and constrains political thinking and acting, generating specific visions of democracy, distribution and representation.

Daniel Zamora Vargas works at the intersection of sociology and intellectual history. His work focuses on 20th century conceptualisations of the ‘social question’ and theories of social justice. He is particularly interested in how new forms of knowledge, problematizations and political thought shape new conceptions of the state and techniques to govern social insecurity.

Together they published in April 2023 Welfare for Markets: A Global History of Basic Income, with Chicago University Press. Their lecture will be about this book.

Lecture: Liberal Worldmaking and the Imaginative Geography of Sex Trafficking – Jeanne Morefield (Oxford)

Utrecht, 9 May 2023


Since the late 1990’s, global attention to the issue of human trafficking (particularly sex trafficking) has skyrocketed within international institutions and among fascist aspiring conspiracy theorists.  This talk turns to the last period in global history when international anti–trafficking campaigns were this widespread, the interwar era. I focus on how liberal internationalist supporters of the League of Nations used the putatively “non–political” issue of the “traffic in women and children” to negotiate tensions in the League’s world vision between its universal rhetoric and its ongoing commitment to racial hierarchy and imperialism. Rather than focus on how trafficking helped League internationalists deflect attention away from this disconnect, however, I draw upon Edward Said’s notion of “imaginative geography” to better understand the generative quality of trafficking. Read in this light, an investigation of the League’s archives reveals a complex discursive and bureaucratic process of knowledge production about a globe–spanning, criminal underworld – populated by anti–Semitic caricatures of traffickers and helpless victims – against which the League could invent and instantiate itself. A closer interrogation of interwar, anti–trafficking politics thus has much to tell us about the relationship between world making and underworld making in the liberal internationalism imaginary, and about the overlap between that imaginary and the dreamworld of fascism, both then and now.


Jeanne Morefield is an Associate Professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford, a Fellow at New College (Oxford), and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute. Her scholarship sits at the intersection of political theory, international relations, and intellectual history with a particular focus on the relationship between liberalism, imperialism, and internationalism in Britain and America. She is the author of Covenants Without Swords: Idealist Liberalism and the Spirit of Empire (2005), Empires Without Imperialism: Anglo American Decline and the Politic of Deflection (2014) and Unsettling the World: Edward Said and Political Theory (2022).  Her next book project, Underworld, examines the role of sex trafficking panics in the shared global imaginaries of liberalism and fascism. Morefield’s popular work has appeared in The Boston Review, Jacobin, Responsible Statecraft, and The New Statesman.

History Things: The Gallic Past and French Historical Research in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century – Lecture by Lisa Regazzoni (Bielefeld)

Utrecht, 14 March 2023


Adopting a fresh perspective, my research takes on the task of rethinking the field of knowledge dealing with the “Gallic past” in French discourse in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Instead of first buckling down to the analysis of historical narratives surrounding the Gallic past, it tackles the monument, the historical evidence that underpinned and verified insights into that past. Spotlighting the monument for the first time as an epistemic object, it explores its impressive semantic enhancement in the course of the eighteenth century and the concomitant epistemic practices involved in constructing the Gallic past.

From this vantage point, my research wants to offer a pioneering contribution to a historical epistemology yet to be written, one that focuses on the historicity of the respective epoch-specific “species” of evidence. The single-minded pursuit of monuments prompts a gaze shift to the French provinces, where material and immaterial testimonies of the Gallic past were “discovered” and processed into epistemic objects. The “provincializing” of Paris as a site of knowledge production ensues, shedding light on the crucial role of provincial erudition, as seen not merely in the “invention” of the Gallic past but also in methodological and epistemological renewal. What follows is a revision of the historiography of recent decades, which has interpreted the narrative of an “autochthonous” pre-Roman past either as nation building or identity creation. With rare exceptions, the real purpose of these narratives produced with and around Gallic monuments was to brace ecumenical, Christian-apologetic, universalist (and anti-Gallic!) views or parochial claims.


Lisa Regazzoni is full professor in Theory of History at the University of Bielefeld. Previously, she was a ‘Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter’ at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, held fellowships at, among other places, the IAS Princeton, German Historical Institute London and the EHESS Paris, and lectured at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. In 2020 she published her ‘Habilitationsschrift’ entitled Geschichtsdinge. Gallische Vergangenheit und französische Geschichtsforschung im 18. und frühen 19. Jahrhundert. Her research interests include the history and theory of historical studies, material culture and history of collecting and French intellectual history of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Antiliberal Internationalism in the 20th Century: Beyond Left & Right? – International conference

Amsterdam, 11-13 January 2023


Glenda Sluga (European University Institute)

Marlene Laruelle (The George Washington University)

António Costa Pinto (University of Lisbon/ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon)

Benjamin Teitelbaum (University of Colorado, Boulder)

Conference jointly organized with the Amsterdam school for Regional, Transnational and European Studies, the University of Groningen and the Amsterdam Centre for European Studies.

Convening committee: Marjet Brolsma (University of Amsterdam), Robin de Bruin (University of Amsterdam), Stefan Couperus (University of Groningen), Matthijs Lok (University of Amsterdam), and Rachel Johnston-White (University of Groningen)