Exchange Programs in the 20th Century: Education, Circulation, and Transfer
University of Geneva
11-12 December 2014
Call for Papers
To gather together scholars who have researched the theory and practice of exchange programmes (educational, philanthropic, medical, governmental, military, etc) through the twentieth century. Different methodological approaches (political, historical, sociological, anthropological, constructivist, etc) are encouraged to form a multidisciplinary gathering. The event aims to be the first to place exchanges at the centre and treat them as a vital, extensive, yet still under-researched phenomenon in global history.
In the contemporary world, cultural and educational exchange has become so common that one does not realize how novel this form of circulation was a century ago. Forms of scholarly exchange have existed since the Middle Ages, but their institutionalization only began at the end of the 19th century. Exchanges expanded rapidly due to three factors: the revolution in means of transportation; the affirmation of nation-states and the growing rivalries between the great powers in the intellectual and political fields; the birth of internationalism and the belief in developing intercultural understanding and friendship as a way to promote peace. In the last decade of the 19th century, public and private academic exchange programs were created in Germany, France, and Britain, the latter affirming its global status by including the dominions and the United States in the Rhodes Scholarship program of 1902. Following WW I the United States became the major actor in the field of exchange programs thanks to numerous private initiatives. In this process the great philanthropic foundations played a key role. In 1917 the Rockefeller Foundation created a fellowship program that saw almost 6000 participants from the five continents up to 1945. During the Cold War exchange programs became a strategic instrument of US foreign affairs, especially with the creation in 1946 of the important Fulbright Program, which enabled 78,000 grantees from 110 countries to visit the US and 39000 American grantees to go abroad between 1948 and 1975. The Foreign Leader Program, launched in 1950, involved around 11,500 grantees (mainly from Western Europe) being invited to visit the US between 1950 and 1962. Joseph Nye has estimated that there were approximately 700,000 grantees on all US exchange programs between 1945 and 2000. These figures highlight how the creation and development of exchange programs through the 20th century brought about an important transformation in the international circulation of elites. Yet the historiography of exchanges remains in its infancy, and so the circuits of exchange, and the intellectual topography they fomented, are only now coming into focus.
This is partly due to the topic falling between different fields of enquiry, such as international relations, history of science, cultural history, and history of philanthropy. Until recently none of these fields considered exchange programs as a topic of serious study in its own right. This is particularly the case with the history of international relations, which has generated some important work on cultural diplomacy in recent years, but which has largely focused on the study of institutions. The history of philanthropy has concentrated on the large American foundations and primarily paid attention to institution-building strategies, considering fellowship programs to be of secondary importance. The history of science has mostly concentrated on the institutionalization of disciplines and on the construction of national scientific policies. With the exception of one or two unique studies, exchange programs have rarely been treated as a topic worthy of investigation in themselves.
This conference aims to fill this void. It approaches exchanges as a transnational phenomenon, and intends to bring out several interlocking levels of analysis: the individual (the participants of exchange programs); the institutional (those institutions involved with sending and receiving participants); the national (government policies and strategies); the international (the circulations and transfers generated by such programs).
Four Areas of Enquiry:
1) Public and Private Programs: Methods, Goals and Interlinkages
Public and private programs were initiated around the same time at the end of the 19th century. In the 1890s the Alliance Française was a pioneer in the organization of academic exchanges, and in 1910 the French government created the Office national des universités et des écoles françaises. In 1898 the banker Albert Kahn created independently the «Autour du monde» fellowship program in order to enable secondary school teachers to travel abroad and discover other cultures. In the US, private actors were monopolizing the field of exchange programs before 1945, especially the major foundations such as the Carnegie, the Rockefeller and the Guggenheim. American private actors provided models and patterns of organization for exchange programs which were then reproduced by the federal government after 1945, as with the Fulbright Program is an example of this.
The issue of interaction between the public and private spheres is therefore of great importance. How did the circulation of models and patterns function between them? What were the respective methods, goals and geographic scope of private and public programs? To what extent did the public and private programs complement or compete with each other? How did they articulate the national interest and the ambition to foster international understanding? Did private actors still play a major role after 1945 in the organization of exchange programs?
2) Institution-Building and Professional Careers
The second set of questions concerns the beneficiaries of exchange programs. It is often mentioned in historical studies that this or that famous political leader, academic, journalist or artist was the beneficiary of an exchange program. Senator William Fulbright was a former Rhodes Scholar, as were Dean Rusk (later president of the Rockefeller Foundation and US Secretary of State) and the economist Walt Whitman Rostow. Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal and French biologist Jacques Monod were Rockefeller fellows. American composer Philip Glass and Spanish politician Javier Solana (High Representative for the EU’s Common Foreign Security Policy from 1999 to 2009) were Fulbright scholars. French journalists Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber and André Fontaine were grantees of the Foreign Leader Program. And so on. But beyond these famous names, what do we know about the many other former grantees of exchange programs?
A history of exchange programs must adopt a long-term perspective in order to study the beneficiaries before, during and after the exchange. Where do the beneficiaries come from? What are their social and educational backgrounds? In what period of their life did they benefit from the exchange? Where did they go, and what did they do? What influence did these travels have on their subsequent careers? Can we evaluate the influence of programs on the career paths of individuals or groups (academics, journalists, politicians, physicans, social scientists)? All these questions are of fundamental importance if one wants to go beyond vague generalizations or abstract statistics. The study of individuals and groups must also be combined with a study of institutions to which the beneficiaries belonged and to which they were sent. This will bring into focus the interlinkages (global topography) of institutions and countries involved in exchange programs, forming a historical map of the transnational circulations induced by such programs through the 20th century. To what extent did exchange programs contribute to the construction of transnational networks? In what fields? How did these networks develop and evolve over the longer term?
3) Knowledge Transfer: Unilateral, Bilateral, or Transnational Processes?
The third major question concerns the role of exchange programs in the construction and circulation of knowledge. In the late 19th century countries were competing for leadership in science, and exchanges were part of this competition. These processes continued after 1918 when governments declared national science policies, and after 1945 when the mobilization of researchers became an important aspect of the Cold War.
The major question here pertains to the role of exchange programs in knowledge transfer processes. This is especially important for the role of the United States after 1945. The exchange programs organised by the US during the Cold War were mostly dedicated to facilitating the export of an American model for socio-economic modernization to secure development, further peace and prosperity, and strengthen the ‘free world’ against totalitarianism. However, knowledge transfer is less unilateral than it appears at first sight. An analysis of exchange programs that combines the micro and macro, national and international, and individual and institutional levels can expose the multiplicity of outcomes that were triggered. Many studies on Americanization have underscored the fact that grantees from diverse exchange programs coming to the US took back to their countries the knowledge, practices and values learnt during their sojourns in the US. Yet the reverse phenomenon has almost never been examined. Even during the interwar period numerous researchers from Europe, Latin America and Asia went to the US with Rockefeller and other fellowships in order to study in American laboratories, universities and hospitals. In doing so they not only learnt new practices in pioneering disciplines like genetics, neurosurgery or econometrics, but also brought their knowledge and experiences to the host institutions. This process continued after 1945 and can still be observed today. The study of exchange programs from a long-term perspective can thus bring new insights to the analysis of knowledge circulation and transfer, be that along West-West, West East, or North South axis.
4) The Ongoing Value of Exchange Programs
The fourth set of questions concern the actual relevance of exchange programs in the 21st century. These programs emerged in the age of nationalism, so does their purpose still have a place in the post-Cold War world? Has the logic and relevance of exchange programs changed radically since 1989? Do they have a new sense of purpose within national policies, or have developments in communications technology rendered them increasingly obsolete? How has the topography of exchange programs continued to evolve? What role do emerging countries and regional structures (like the European Union and its Erasmus program) have in the geopolitics of exchange programs? Opportunities for travelling and discovering new cultures are now more widespread. In this changing context, what is the continuing raison d’être for exchange programs today, in a globalized, post-Cold War world? What is there ongoing added value, and for what or who exactly?
Please send a 500 word proposal, and a brief CV, to Exchanges2014@gmail.com before 14 February 2014
For further details on the event, or any queries, please contact the organisers:
Prof. Ludovic Tournes, University of Geneva firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Giles Scott-Smith, University of Leiden email@example.com
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