Thesis

My doctoral dissertation is entitled Nationality and Internationalism: A study of H. N. Brailsford, R. W. Seton-Watson and A.J. Toynbee c.1900 – 1922. It is a contribution to the intellectual history of twentieth-century Britain. It focuses on three sets of debates revolving around the concepts of ‘nationality’ and ‘internationalism’. It seeks to recover early-twentieth-century discussions on the questions of nationality and international organisation in Europe’s periphery and their reverberations in the British context. It is also a study of intellectuals and their networks. It aims to shed light on the ways in which H.N. Brailsford, R.W. Seton-Watson and A.J. Toynbee responded to the nationalist challenges spreading across the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires from the turn of the twentieth century to the aftermath of the Great War. I argue that Seton-Watson’s engagement with the ‘races’ of East-Central Europe, Brailsford’s musings on the Eastern Question and Toynbee’s account of the post-WWI Greco-Turkish imbroglio set forth visions of international order that were much more compatible with the principle of nationality than has hitherto been argued.

Such a perspective shifts the emphasis from a narrow focus on the nationalist appropriations of Seton-Watson, Toynbee and Brailsford’s works to a wider set of questions regarding the prospects of international relations and imperial reform in the British setting. The study has three principal aims. First, it traces the early twentieth-century pre-history of the production of regional knowledge and expertise in Britain. Second, it contributes to the emerging literature on the history of international thought by focusing on the ‘national’ component of the debates on international affairs and charting the conceptual transformation of the ‘nation’ from a political ideal to an object of academic enquiry. Finally, by turning to conceptions of European order at times of war and conflict it aims to recover past debates on the organisation of Europe and Britain’s place in it.

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