The globalization of research and collections at the IISH is not taking place in a void. The term ‘globalization’ has come into widespread use since the start of the twenty-first century – whether with respect to the global economic recession, the shift of power and labour from West to East, the rapid growth of the world population and world capitals, or global warming, which is known as such for good reason. Equally important are the massive droves of migrants in search of new land, more or better employment, greater freedom, or a combination of all of these. Migration of ideas and goods is part of this process.
In historical institutes at universities, world history and global history are among the fastest-growing disciplines. This is clear from the popularity of two specialized journals, as well as from the coverage they receive in journals previously restricted primarily to domestic topics. Research increasingly reflects explicit and systematic comparisons between countries and regions all over the world, for example to explain economic inequality. The IISH research department and its journal International Review of Social History address this field. In addition, migration history has become a research spearhead worldwide, in addition to the comparison of working conditions, labour relations, and types of organizations.
Basically, ‘globalization,’ in the sense of progressive intertwinement of the human communities that populate the world, has been in progress for many centuries. It has accelerated as a consequence of the trek by people seeking their fortune and capital seeking returns, colonialism and imperialism, and the universalism of the ideals of the French Revolution. The IISH collection features globalization both in the classical collection and in more recent materials from and about movements dedicated to political reforms, human rights, or the environment.
Migration historians are primarily interested in the trek to the New World, especially prior to 1922, when the U.S. government curtailed free immigration and introduced quotas according to countries of origin. We are therefore well informed about trans-Atlantic migration by slaves from Africa (201-202), and coolies from Asia, and about migration from Western (203) and Eastern Europe (204). Large databases from ships that transported migrants and slaves, as well as about individual migrants, are gradually becoming available; the IISH contributes to these projects as well. Yet the massive migration waves occurring within Asia at the same time have received fairly little consideration. In Japan, Korea, Java, and above all China, there were millions of labour migrants, both domestically and to other countries. On the plantations of Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies, demand was high for ‘coolies,’ who came from China (205) and Java alike. The contours of the pre-nineteenth century, intra-European flows are gradually becoming visible, although much migration research still awaits regarding the period prior to the heyday of global imperialism.
As a consequence of migration restrictions after the First World War and again after the economic recession of the 1970s, migration has come to be regarded primarily as the cause of problems with regulating and curtailing massive influxes of refugees and eliminating illegal border crossings (206). Modern state formation enables authorities to exclude entire groups from their territory almost overnight at a scale once barely conceivable. In the past, changes in borders already gave rise to large flows of refugees, for example upon the collapse of the European empires following the First World War or at the end of British India. The rise of Nazi Germany and other dictatorships drove many into exile (207-208). In the meantime, however, refugees have become a ‘global’ phenomenon involving continuous displacements and capable of disrupting entire regions for extended periods (209).
Trans-Atlantic slave trade may have been the best-known form of involuntary migration. A Surinamese sugar plantation such as Wayampibo on the upper Commewijne entirely relied on slave labour. The plantation was founded around 1671 and in the early eighteenth century was owned by Gerard de Vree from Arnhem, who owned Vossenburg as well. In 1927 some of the records were purchased by the NEHA at an auction in Arnhem. The balance sheet for the year revealed unambiguously that slaves were treated as means of production with a finite life cycle.
After the Pilgrim Fathers, North America remained a popular destination for people eager to leave Europe on religious grounds. Within America, idealistically motivated groups regularly used the space available to start settlements. In 1848 the followers of John Humphrey Noyes (1811-1886) travelled to Oneida, in the northwest of New York State, to live there as ‘Perfectionists’ in a religious commune. This photograph from 1853 shows the manufacture of travel bags, which were sold to outsiders.
The Doukhobors – a religious group already persecuted in eighteenth-century Russia for its pacifism and collectivism and rejection of government and the Orthodox Church – were permitted to emigrate in 1897, provided they never returned. Many went to Canada, supported by figures such as the author Tolstoy and the anarchist Kropotkin, and established several settlements in what is now Saskatchewan. During the passage, the ship’s physician compiled an invoice for medicine provided on 31 January 1899.
Abolishing plantation slavery in ‘receiving’ areas and overpopulation in ‘sending’ areas, such as India, China, Japan, and Java, gave rise to migrant ‘coolies,’ multi-year contract workers who often forfeited their freedom by accepting advances. On Sumatra the new plantation companies attracted many coolies after 1870. Chinese migrants tended to organize in ‘kongsies.’ In 1889 the Wanyi kongsi issued a diploma (made of durable fabric) to Chen Jifan as a membership certificate, featuring a depiction of the God Lu, who brought affluence.
The nineteenth century and the period 1950-1975 were the golden age of free migration. After ‘guest workers’ ceased to be recruited, refugee status became the sole legal option for labour migrants. European countries increasingly introduced restrictions to block the arrival of ‘economic’ migrants. In 1998 United for Intercultural Action, a network formed against racism in 1992, published a list of over 1,000 migrant deaths at the borders of ‘Fortress Europe.’ This figure has risen to 11,000 since then.
Pervasive nationalism led forced migration on political grounds to rise sharply from the nineteenth century, first in Europe and later all over the world. This course was not easy: often the host country required papers issued only in the country the migrants had fled. In the case of Rudolf Rocker (1873-1958), a prominent anarcho-syndicalist who fled Germany and went to the United States in 1933, Albert Einstein offered (as he did for others) to sponsor his resident permit.
In the 1930s some German authors in exile submitted their works to Dutch publishing companies. In 1934, for example, Joseph Roth (1894-1939) published Der Antichrist with Allert de Lange in Amsterdam. He found the eponym of this title in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, as well as in Hollywood. The archive of this publishing company, which also issued works by Bertolt Brecht, Stefan Zweig, and others, was confiscated by the Nazis in 1940 and returned to Amsterdam via Moscow and Potsdam in 1991.
Refugees driven abroad by domestic conflicts are an important migration wave. Following the Partition of 1947, 15 million people migrated from and to India and Pakistan. In 1964 conflicts with Hindus in the Indian state of West Bengal once again caused hundreds of thousands of Muslims to flee to East Pakistan, where tensions arose with non-Muslims. Many Christian Garos fled in turn from the Northern province of Mymensingh to the Garo Hills in India, as shown on this photograph from 18 March 1964.
International organizations of political opposition movements have existed for a long time. After the Second World War, however, they changed, slowly but surely. The old social movements had been unable to avert, or contributed to create, the catastrophes of the twentieth century. Mankind faced a number of entirely new problems, such as the threat of total destruction through nuclear warfare. Increasingly better means of communication became more widely available. In addition to the old, structured organizations, new types emerged that might be less rigid, locally based though in some cases with international ties, and indifferent towards longevity. This deeply affected collecting institutions such as the IISH. However difficult obtaining the records of German social democracy was during Hitler’s dictatorship, for example, it was facilitated by the fact that its organizations had an extended tradition of professional secretaries, librarians, and archivists. This was rarely if ever the case among the new movements.
Some older international organizations already had a special structure, because they concentrated on a single issue that occurred in many countries, such as conscientious objection (210). Some new ones embraced the international avant-garde traditions and expressed comprehensive criticism of life under all political regimes (211-212). U.S. involvement in Vietnam gave rise to an international network of action groups, which in the United States harshly criticized the liberal pretensions of the government (213) and in other countries hurled accusations of oppression and murder, which might refer to their own governments (214). In 1968 these protest forms appeared to be converging all over the world in a wave of uprisings and movements against the established order, regardless of the ideology (215-216). Globalization manifested as U.S. imperialism, against which new organizations of ‘urban guerrillas’ (217) or the jihad (221) were formed; or as the institutions of international capitalism, which systematically elicited international protests (218-220).
Like the labour movement, the peace movement had an extended tradition of international co-operation, dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. In 1921 in Bilthoven, at the initiative of the Quaker Kees Boeke (1884-1966), radical pacifist and anti-militarist groups founded the organization Paco (‘peace’ in Esperanto), renamed War Resisters’ International in 1923. WRI introduced the ‘broken rifle’ logo in the early 1930s. It supported conscientious objectors in the Federal Republic of Germany even before the Bundeswehr was established in 1955.
In keeping with the cross-border tradition of the twentieth-century avant garde, the Situationist International was established in Cosio d’Arroscia in 1957. A report by Guy Debord (1931-1994) was the major founding document. The organization, which included some former Cobra members, critiqued daily life both in artistic and political terms and deeply influenced radical groups in Europe, especially in France and Italy in 1968. In 1959 Debord published Mémoires together with Asger Jorn (1914-1973). The cover was made of sandpaper.
The U.S. intervention in Vietnam instigated worldwide protest movements, which formed ties during the course of their activities. Resistance to the draft (which affected the baby boomers) drove tens of thousands of Americans to flee abroad, where they increasingly found a reception committee awaiting them. In the United States and Europe the New Left emerged. A new underground press established links between different social movements. This issue of the Los Angeles Free Press appeared soon after the five days of race riots in Detroit in July 1967.
Like in the United States, European protests against the war in Vietnam often came about not through conventional channels but through new organizations dedicated to this purpose. In Great Britain Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) believed that the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament established in 1958 was not doing enough and in 1960 founded the Committee of 100, which used non-violent civil disobedience and direct action to achieve peace. In 1963 the body was divided into regional and in some cases more radical committees.
In the second half of the 1960s social movements became more active and in some cases even opposed the traditional political parties and labour unions, heading for a climax, which came in France in 1968. In May conflicts at the university led to street fighting and barricades (using cobblestones for both) in Paris and then to the first general wildcat strike in history. The spirit of rebellion manifested in countless fields, including poetry.
Some movements radicalized. Armed groups launched an ‘urban guerrilla’ against capitalism, imperialism, and the state, especially in Italy and Germany. In 1970 the Rote Armee Fraktion was formed, but by June 1972 the leaders of the first generation, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Ulrike Meinhoff, and Jan-Carl Raspe, were arrested. They were imprisoned and convicted in Stammheim, where they committed suicide in 1976 (Meinhoff) and 1977. The books they read and annotated in prison are kept at the IISH.
In the twenty-first century resistance to ‘globalization’ – with its many meanings – became global as well, including actions during and against meetings of organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, or the World Trade Organization. When the WTO organized a conference in Hong Kong in 2005, the People’s Alliance was formed to oppose it. This network of primarily local groups staged a week of protest actions, using T shirts, head gear, and pennants to publicize their cause.
Encouraged by the successful guerrilla against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1990s, Islamic militants devised their own global resistance against the globalization embodied by America. The symbolic centrepiece became the organization Al Qaeda (the Base), established in late 1988 under Osama bin Laden (*1957), who elaborated on the radical ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood and the return to an original Islam. This publication issued in Cairo in 2002 raised the question as to whether bin Laden was ‘the long awaited mahdi or a misleading Messiah.’
Enlightenment ideals were unmistakable influences behind the establishment of the League of Nations (1919-1946) and still more so behind the Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948. Since then, however, many member states have ignored these highly esteemed rules of the game they solemnly ratified of their own free will, in some cases even routinely. This gave rise to an array of organizations that took issue with such violations and tried to exert moral pressure on the transgressors.
Similar organizations had previously, following the fight against slavery, targeted white slavery (222) and child labour (223). National and international protest movements opposing such practices date back to the nineteenth century. In some places, movements for animal welfare have existed for almost as long.
Amnesty International is presently the most influential human rights movement in the world; in 1998 it entrusted its archive to the IISH (224-225). The countless documents that this organization has gathered about infringements on the rights of workers are obviously compatible with the core collection of the Institute, while the others relate to a rapidly growing sub-collection. In China (226) and Russia (227-228), where massive human rights violations occurred earlier in the twentieth century, some organizations dedicate their efforts both to commemoration of past victims and to the predicament of new ones.
One important effect of the growing awareness that every human being has fundamental rights is the resulting opportunity to accommodate divergent demands by invoking human rights. The UN Declaration, for example, might be stretched to include the right to personal sexual preference (229) and the right of farmers to land (230).
In the early nineteenth century the movement to abolish slavery became the first international human rights movement. Toward the end of the century, however, it was established that prostitution continued to benefit from the international ‘white slavery’ trade. In 1875 the first predecessor of the Fédération Abolitionniste Internationale was established. In 1907 the Norwegian writer Elisabeth Schøyen (1852-1934) published Den hvide Slavinde, which was translated into Dutch by the feminist Margaretha Meyboom (1856-1927).
In the nineteenth century objections to child labour started to surface in Europe, but family income long remained a major consideration. Around 2000 this Indian family – parents and two boys, ages six and eight – travelled eight hundred kilometres from Etah (Utar Pradesh) to the factory in Gandhinagar (Gujarat), where they kneaded clay daily from midnight until noon and pressed it into wooden moulds to lay on the ground for the bricks to dry before they are baked in the oven.
Organizations such as Amnesty International founded in 1961 or the Helsinki Group from Moscow founded in 1976 tried to get governments to comply with human rights declarations they had ratified. Established by Peter Benenson (1921-2005), an attorney specializing in labour law, and the Quaker Eric Baker (1920-1976), AI received support from prominent figures such as Albert Schweitzer, who compared it to the Red Cross that originated in the 1860s. In addition to thorough reports, AI soon became known for striking posters and T shirts.
After the leaders of the bloody Cultural Revolution were neutralized, China was repeatedly the scene of movements for democratic freedoms and fairly brutally repression. The death of former party chairman Hu Yaobang (1915-1989), who had advocated democratic reforms, gave rise to demonstrations on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, which lasted for weeks, until the army ended them. Shortly before, the demonstrators had erected a statue of the ‘goddess of democracy’ on the square, of which miniature replicas were produced.
In Russia the openness of the 1980s gave rise to various organizations dedicated to helping victims of state repression, at first primarily from the Soviet past but soon from the present as well. Dimitrij Krikor’janc, on the staff of the group responsible for the journal Ekspress-Chronika, started as an underground human rights bulletin in 1987, kept a diary about the events in Chechnya and regularly published about his findings. In April 1993 he became one of the first journalists killed in the new Russia.
In 1948 the family was designated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as “the natural and fundamental group unit of society.” Organizations of sexual minorities have campaigned about the interpretation of this formulation ever since. In June 1992, not long after the fall of the Soviet Union, a ‘pink-blue cultural festival’ was organized in St Petersburg, analogous to the German Christopher Street Day, at the Lenin Culture House near Proletarskaya metro station. Still, homosexuality remained highly controversial.
The UN Declaration of 1948 gave everybody the right to own property, to social security, and to work under “just and favourable conditions.” In 1988 the Brazilian constitution added that land should serve a “social purpose.” The Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, which originated in the early 1980s, organized hundreds of thousands of landless farm workers in an effort to achieve land reforms. The MST also teamed up with the international farmers’ organization Via Campesina, which was established in 1992.
Environmental concern is as old as cities. Stench from waste, nuisance from ovens, and the spread of infectious diseases were cause for local and in the case of diseases even international concerns. The atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 introduced a fundamental change: here, a force was unleashed that might prove impossible to control in the long run. During the Cold War the arms race raised awareness that the entire world was in danger. And aside from the military applications of nuclear energy, even peaceful use toward generating electricity or for healthcare entailed the problem of storing nuclear waste. In 1972 the Club or Rome moreover argued that fossil fuels and metals would be exhausted, if they continued to be extracted at current levels – not to mention increases in use, due to explosive growth of the world population.
The most prominent movement embracing and clustering these warnings was Greenpeace, which arose from the peace movement in the United States and Canada in the early 1970s and became known all over the world, thanks to high-profile, well-publicized campaigns (231). Greenpeace International has also selected the IISH as the repository for its archive. The movement was a major source of inspiration to the many organizations concerned about all aspects of the environment (232). Both their sphere of action and their concerns have expanded rapidly since the fall of the Iron Curtain (233). New trends elicited new responses: production of genetically modified food was associated with severe criticism of science to promote capitalism with no regard for quality of life (234). This raises ethical questions extending beyond human beings (235-236) that could still be formulated as a game since the days of the Marxes (237-239).
After the Second World War serious concern arose about the new nuclear weapons and about nuclear energy in general. In the early 1970s an organization that resisted American nuclear testing evolved into Greenpeace, which subsequently addressed far broader environmental problems. The new issues tackled gave rise to new action strategies, involving ships from the outset. In 1978 Greenpeace started using the – first – Rainbow Warrior, of which the log is presented here; in 1985 the ship was sunk by a French special unit.
The new action strategies of the environmental movement, in addition to film and video productions perfectly equipped for modern media, since the 1970s also included buttons generated quickly and cheaply in massive quantities, of which the IISH has many thousands. Nearly thirty million copies were distributed in at least 45 languages of the Danish button reading ‘atomkraft? nej tak’ (atomic energy? no thanks). The logo designed in 1975 by Anne Lund and Søren Lisberg surfaced in many other formats as well.
In post-war nuclear testing, very limited consideration was given to possible miscalculations and the potential impact on nearby residents, especially with tests performed above ground. In 1989 at Alma Ata in Kazakhstan the international anti-nuclear movement Nevada Semipalatinsk was formed. The organization was named after Semipalatinsk, the main testing area in the Soviet Union, where about a million people suffered exposure to nuclear radiation, and the American equivalent Nevada, which shortly before had been the site of demonstrations against nuclear testing.
Having produced the atomic bomb science increasingly came to be associated with developments that benefited large corporations, especially in the pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology. Experiments with genetically modified crops (‘frankenfood’) elicited protests, which in France could be radical and led to harsh criticism of modern industry and technology. In May 1968 René Riesel (*1950) had been the first chairman of the occupation committee of the Sorbonne.
Some critics viewed economic growth as spreading a general disregard for life, including that of animals. Sometimes they derived their position from vegetarianism or the anti-vivisection movement, which started to be organized back in the nineteenth century. Animal-breeding practices, especially in agribusiness, were criticized as harshly as use of animals in circuses, for testing, or for their hides. “I am not a fur coat,” says the fox in 2001.
Sometimes concern for people and animals coincided: back in 1824 William Wilberforce, who had led the struggle to abolish slavery, co-founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This late twentieth-century poster of the Deutscher Tierschutzbund related people to animals – both equally threatened by dangers to which animals were still more vulnerable and seemed to call for a new Noah’s Ark.
Combining the useful with the agreeable, many ‘rebels with a cause’ played and devised games. The Marx’s in London played Strikes, for which the game rules have unfortunately disappeared, but which was probably similar to an industrial Game of the Goose. The Marx-erger-je-niet game (Sorry, Marx!), produced in Louvain in 1981, taught players all about “the evolution of the simple commodities trade into the capitalist production system and the central role of surplus value in the analysis of capitalism.”