CFP: “Decolonising Empires, 1930s – 1970s:  Transnational Actors and Social Reform in (Post-) Colonial Countries”

“Who Cares in Europe?” is delighted to announce the CFP for the new transversal project “Decolonising Empires, 1930s – 1970s:  Transnational Actors and Social Reform in (Post-) Colonial Countries” led by Michele Mioni and Marco van Leeuwen. 


Please find below Michele Mioni and Marco van Leeuwen’s proposal.


Perspectives and questions 

Social welfare has been commonly considered to be a distinctive trait of European history and identity. Academic research traditionally studied models, policies, practices, ideas based on European experiences. Only recently, political sciences and historiography began to explore the development of social policy in colonial and postcolonial areas. Starting from the recent studies on the global social policy, this interdisciplinary proposal aims to scrutinise the role of the transnational actors that interconnected Europe and the (post)colonial spaces in the years 1930s–1970s.  

The project welcomes contributions from historians, political scientists, social scientists that examine the interactions that occurred among public and voluntary actors at national, international, and transnational levels. It thus focuses on colonial administrations, parties, unions, national/international non-governmental organisations, UN agencies. The proposal integrates the traditional “euro-centric” views by shifting emphasis to the non-European actors that promoted and shaped social reform worldwide throughout the second half of the 20th Century. Relevant questions stemming from this topic may be: 

  1. How and to what extent did national and transnational players acted as brokers in the exchanges between metropoles and dependant territories?  
  2. To what extent did NGOs and INGOs influenced the debate and implementation of social reform in Europe and in (post)colonial areas? 
  3. What roles did transnational organisations play in the transition from colonial to post-colonial social policies? 
  4. To which extent did transnational organisations mediate the effects of colonisation and decolonisation for families in dependent territories, and in metropoles and other parts of the colonising states during (de)colonisation? 
  5. How and to what extent did the Cold War context influence the goals and action of the transnational/international organisations (ideas, policies, international relations)? 

We believe this proposal allows us to benefit from the fruits of our COST-action Who Cares in Europe?, as they have become apparent, and thereby extend the triadic approach of our COST-action somewhat. Next to dealing with the actors in our triadic approach (families, voluntary organisations and the European states), we study their relations with transnational organisations in the framework of colonial empires and newly independent states. 


After a transversal brainstorming session at the next COST-Action meeting that will be tentatively held at Aix-en-Provence in mid-May 2022, we will aim for  a thematic panel at the European Social Sciences History Conference that will take place at the University of Gothenburg in April 2023. This leads up to our own conference end 2023 or early 2024 in Germany to discuss drafts for our intended publication.

Please let us know before April 11 2022 if you are interested to participate in this transversal project either at the ESSHC or in our own conference, mentioning a title and a preliminary abstract of say ½ -1 page

Publication venues

Depending on the papers we aim for an edited volume – with an introduction by us – or a special issue of a Journal, such as the Journal of Global History, or the International Review of Social History


Marco van Leeuwen (m.h.d.vanleeuwen@uu.nl) & Michele Mioni (michele.mioni@uni-bremen.de)