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Bastiaan Bouwman

Postdoc Fellow, SCRIPTS Cluster

Bastiaan is a historian of human rights, humanitarianism, and migration in the twentieth century, particularly in relation to postwar internationalism, the Cold War, and decolonization. He received his PhD in International History from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2019. He has been awarded fellowships by Princeton University, the Institute of European History in Mainz, and the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC. He also served as managing editor at Cold War History journal and co-organized the LSE International History Research Seminar. He has taught at the LSE, Queen Mary University of London, and Princeton. Prior to his PhD, Bastiaan was a junior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He received BAs in History and Philosophy as well as a Research MA in History from the University of Amsterdam. Currently, he is working on a monograph, From Liberalism to Liberation: The World Council of Churches and Human Rights. At the FU, he is developing his second project, on the origins of the international refugee regime.


2014 – 2019                 PhD in International History, London School of Economics (LSE)

2010 – 2013                 Research MA in History, University of Amsterdam

2007 – 2010                 BA in Philosophy, University of Amsterdam

2006 – 2010                 BA in History, University of Amsterdam


2020 – present             Postdoctoral Fellow at Cluster of Excellence on ‘Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS)’, Freie Universität, Berlin
2019 – 2020                 Fung Global Fellow, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University

2016 – 2019               Managing Editor at Cold War History, LSE IDEAS

Summer Semester 2021

MA Program

Human Rights and American Foreign Relations in the Twentieth Century, Bastiaan Bouwman, Mondays, 12:00-14:00

Resarch Interests

  • Human Rights
  • Refugees
  • Humanitarianism
  • The global Cold War
  • Decolonization
  • Christian internationalism
  • Non-Governmental Organizations

Current Research Projects at SCRIPTS

Bastiaan’s project investigates the role of Christian humanitarianism in the response to the crisis of displacement at the end of the Second World War and the ensuing formation of the international refugee regime in 1951. The literature on this subject has unduly neglected the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which were among the most important humanitarian actors at the time, and which provide a window into the central paradox of the 1951 regime: while on the face of it the establishment of the regime seemed a victory for universal, liberal, and cosmopolitan principles, in many ways it represented a consolidation of Western nation-states, national sovereignty, and international restraints on mobility. Going beyond signaling these NGOs’ importance to the historical relationship between religion and humanitarianism, the project shows how their work reflected and impacted on the major political questions at stake at the time.


Refereed journal articles

2018: ‘From Religious Freedom to Social Justice: The Human Rights Engagement of the Ecumenical Movement from the 1940s to the 1970s’, Journal of Global History, 13, 2 (2018) 252-273.


2017: ‘Outraged, Yet Moderate and Impartial: The Rise of Amnesty International in the Netherlands, 1961-1980’, Low Countries Historical Review, 132, 4 (2017) 53-74.


Book chapters and edited volumes

2018: ‘1948 – De Wereldraad van Kerken en dekolonisatie’ [1948 – The World Council of Churches and Decolonization], in Lex Heerma van Voss, et al., eds., Wereldgeschiedenis van Nederland [World History of the Netherlands] (Amsterdam: Ambo Anthos, 2018) 570-576.


2015: ‘Uncomfortable Bedfellows: Why Human Rights and Democracy Promotion Are Better Off Separate’, in: Anthony Chase, ed., Transatlantic Perspectives on Diplomacy and Diversity: Select Essays from the 2014 Diplomacy and Diversity Fellowship (New York: Humanity in Action Press, 2015) 97-115.


2012: Rimko van der Maar and Bastiaan Bouwman, trans., ‘The Netherlands, the Missile Crisis, and Cuban-Dutch Relations, 1962-1964: Documents from the Dutch Archives’, in: James G. Hershberg and Christian F. Ostermann, ed., The Global Cuban Missile Crisis at 50: New Evidence from Beyond the Iron, Bamboo, and Sugarcane Curtains, and Beyond (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2012) 674-707.


Monographs in preparation

From Liberalism to Liberation: The World Council of Churches and Human Rights


Web-based publications

2017: ‘Nairobi, 1975: The World Council of Churches and Human Rights’, in Fabian Klose et al., eds., Online Atlas on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rightshttp://wiki.ieg-mainz.de/ghra/articles/bouwman-nairobi.

2013: ‘Present at the Undoing: The Netherlands and the Multilateral Force’, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, http://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/present-at-the-undoing.


Grants, awards, and fellowships

2020 (2 months): Postdoctoral Fellowship at German Historical Institute, Washington, DC (deferred to 2021 due to Covid-19)

2018 (6 months): Doctoral Fellowship at the Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz

2017: PhD Small Grant, LSE Marshall Institute

2016: 'Global Humanitarianism Research Academy', University of Exeter, Leibniz Institute of European History, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Exeter and Geneva

2014: 'The Diplomacy and Diversity Fellowship', Humanity in Action, Washington, DC and Paris

2012-2013 (3 months) Junior Scholar at the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC