Culture & International History VI: Visions of Humanity

6 – 8 May 2019 in Berlin

John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin

The conference Culture and International History VI was from the 6th through the 8thof May, 2019 in Berlin. Siep Stuurman (Universiteit Utrecht), author of The Invention of Humanity: Equality and Cultural Difference in World History (Harvard UP, 2017), delivered the keynote speech. The conference marked the 20th anniversary of the symposium cycle that began in 1999 and has since taken place in Wittenberg, Frankfurt, Cologne, and Berlin. Key themes and contributions have been published in Berghahn Books’ series Explorations in Culture and International History (Oxford, New York, since 2003).

“Visions of Humanity” seeks to address the growing interest in historical ideas, statements, policies and actions invoking transnational, international and global audiences in the name of common values, rights and concerns. These may be manifest in activism relating to human rights, policies invoking humanitarian action, cultural output imagining trans-border societies, ideas wedding technology and the human, international protest against mechanisms of marginalization, cross-cultural canon-building (“the humanities”) and attempts to define “humanity” in academic disciplines. International history is full of people and organizations invoking visions of humanity in an effort to create common notions of identity (“we”) based on international and global reference points. But who constituted “we”? What made “us” similar? Who was part of humanity, who wasn’t? What were the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion in humanity? And who defined and contested these criteria and decisions?