Masterclass by Davide Rodogno (The Graduate Institute, Geneva)

This masterclass is part of the two-day workshop ‘Historians without Borders: Writing Histories of International Organizations’. This workshop is organized by the ERC project ‘Rethinking Disability’ and sponsored by the Huizinga Institute. It is intended to bring together early-career researchers from different fields working on international organizations, to discuss methodological challenges together with peers and established scholars and aims at providing an informal and interactive setting for the exchange of ideas and perspectives.

Ever since historians have started to break with their ‘methodological nationalism’, history beyond borders has seem to split up in different subfields – e.g. global, transnational and world history – where fruitful dialogue sometimes seems increasingly difficult. The purpose of this workshop is to open up this dialogue, to see what specific advantages different approaches can offer and how they can be best put to use. In order to do this, the workshop will focus on the history of international organizations, from the main intergovernmental organizations (IOs) – such as the League of Nations, the UN or the NATO – to the vast field of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), spanning a diverse range of causes from the environment (Greenpeace), over human rights (Amnesty International), to humanitarianism (Médecins sans frontières).

More information and an overview of the complete program for the workshop can be found here.

Possible approaches to the history of international organizations: chances and limitations of a view from Geneva

The masterclass will be divided in three parts of roughly fifty minutes each. In the first part we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of studying the history and politics of international organizations using primary sources produced by international organizations. In the second part we will consider different approaches useful to study the history of international organizations; we will also engage with the usefulness of labels and ‘turns’ in contemporary history. In the third and final part of this class we will take cue from my research on the history of Western humanitarianism to debate approaches, sources, methods and methodologies as well as the risks related to the setting up of a research field.

The masterclass will be taught by Davide Rodogno. Dr. Rodogno was a Research Fellow at the London School of Economics (2002-2004), Foreign Associate Researcher at the Institut d’Histoire du Temps Présent in Paris (2004-2005), Academic Fellow – Research Council United Kingdom Academic Fellow – at the School of History, University of St Andrews (2005-2010), and SNSF – Research Professor (2008-2011). Associate professor (2011-2014) and full professor since 2014 at the Graduate Institute, he serves as head of the International History Department (2014-2017). He researches the history of philanthropic foundations, and international public health since the nineteenth century. In 2011 Rodogno published Against Massacre: Humanitarian Interventions in the Ottoman Empire (1815-1914), the Birth of a Concept and International Practice (Princeton University Press). During the summer of 2012 the Kofi Annan Foundation mandated Rodogno to write a report documenting the experience of the United Nations and League of Arab States Joint Special Envoy for Syria. More recently, Rodogno co-edited and authored a volume on the history of Humanitarian Photography, a volume on Transnational Networks of Experts in the Long Nineteenth century, and another on the League of Nations’ social work. He currently works on a third monograph tentatively entitled: Night on Earth – Humanitarian Organizations’ Relief and Rehabilitation Programmes on Behalf of Civilian Populations (1918-1939).

Practical information

Date: 22 March 2018

Time: 14.00-16.30

Venue: Leiden University, Lipsius building, room 147

Open to: Researchmaster- and PhD-students

Fee: free

Credits: 1 ECTS (available upon request)

Registration: Maximum participants in this event: 25 Register before: March 8, 2018

Register here:

Preparation and proposed readings

Students will be asked to read a selection of articles in preparation for the masterclass.


In order to register for the masterclass, please send an email to In your email, kindly state:

  • Your name
  • Your affiliation
  • How your research is linked to the methodological issues discussed in the masterclass

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