At the end of the Napoleonic wars, the invention of a new kind of international politics, with an emphasis on permanent peace, humanity and humanitarianism, was already implicated in the rise of new kinds of international finance, and the prospect of transnational investment in humanitarian policies. A century later, the Paris peace conference of 1919, prospects for human dignity and efficient trade were tied to the internationally-consistent rights of workers in the shaping of the ILO. In this talk, I focus on the economic contexts of human rights discourse and law as a way of capturing the spectrum of imaginaries and cultural norms that have shaped modern conceptions of international order, with a particular emphasis on gender and the family. My aim is to understand specifically the place that human rights has in the international politics of not only the past, but the future.
Glenda Sluga is Professor of International History at the University of Sydney. She is also an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, currently directing the programme ‘Inventing the International – the Origins of Globalisation’. Her most recent books include Internationalism in the Age of Nationalism (Penn, 2013), she is the co-editor (with Carolyn James) of Women, Diplomacy and International Politics since 1500 (Routledge, 2015 ) and (with Patricia Clavin) Internationalisms: A Twentieth Century History (CUP, 2017).