Civilizing Missions in the Twentieth Century


Volume Editors: and
The civilizing mission associated with nineteenth-century colonialism became harder to justify after the First World War. In an increasingly anti-imperialist culture, elites reformulated schemes for the “improvement” of “inferior” societies. Nation building, social engineering, humanitarianism, modernization or the spread of democracy were used to justify outside interventions and the top-down transformation of non-western, international or even domestic societies.

The contributions in Civilizing Missions in the Twentieth Century discuss how these justifications influenced Polish nation building, Scandinavian disarmament proposals and technocratic social policies in the interwar years. Treatment of the second half of the century covers the changing cultural context of European humanitarianism, as well as the influence of American social science on US foreign policy, more particularly democracy promotion.

Contributors are: Boris Barth, Rolf Hobson, Jürgen Osterhammel, Frank Ninkovich, Bianka Pietrow-Ennker, Karen Gram-Skjoldager, Esther Moeller, and Jost Dülffer.

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Prof. Dr. Boris Barth is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the Charles University, Prague. He has published monographs and many articles on financial imperialism, the stab-in-the-back legend, genocide, and on the crisis of the European democracies in the inter-war years.

Rolf Hobson is Professor of History at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies and the University of Bergen. He has published studies of modern European political history, war and society and German military history.
Notes on Contributors

Civilizing Missions from the 19th to the 21st Centuries, or from Uplifting to Democratization
Boris Barth and Rolf Hobson

The Cultural Transformation of America’s Civilizing Mission in the Twentieth Century
Frank Ninkovich

Nation-Building, Concepts of Space and Civilizing Mission in the Early Second Republic of Poland
Bianka Pietrow-Ennker

Ambiguities of the Domestic Civilizing Mission: Technocratic Elites and Social Engineering in Interwar Europe
Boris Barth

Lilliputians for Peace: Scandinavian Internationalism and International Disarmament c. 1880–1940
Karen Gram-Skjoldager

Questioning the Civilizing Mission: Humanitarianism and the Arab World in the 20th Century
Esther Moeller

The Democratic Peace Controversy in Retrospect as a “Civilizing Mission”? a Theory Revisited
Jost Dülffer

American Nationalism and Regime Change: How the Neocons Tried to Speed Up the Inevitable
Rolf Hobson

Epilogue: from Civilizing Missions to the Defence of Civility
Jürgen Osterhammel


All interested in European and in global history in the 20th century, anyone concerned with human rights, improvement of mankind, and in the civilizing mission.
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