European Intellectual History after the Global Turn

Public lecture with Samuel Moyn, 12 December 2018

European Intellectual History
after the Global Turn

A Public Lecture with Samuel Moyn

12 December, 10.15–11.45
University of Helsinki, Main building (Unioninkatu 34), aud. IV.

Comments by Josephine Hoegaerts
and Johan Strang

Event chaired by Martti Koskenniemi


For a long time, modern European intellectual historians could rest content with the thought that they were the cosmopolitans in their guild, blissfully free of the nationalizing defaults of their colleagues. Given the continental ramifications of the Enlightenment, it was normal to frame it supra- and transnationally. It required no deep insight to place the international circulation of intellectual movements – and their human representatives, thanks to waves of exile after political repression in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – center stage, in a host of studies. “Ideas are the most migratory things in the world,” Arthur O. Lovejoy commented. But the truth is that the mainstream of the field of modern European intellectual history was never really cosmopolitan. For all their default internationalism, modern European intellectual historians saw no need for global consciousness. That has been changing recently, partly out of the decentering trends of global history, in part out of necessity that all historians of European society currently face to make themselves relevant. Fortunately, it is not hard to defend the proposition that modern European intellectual history can not only survive but thrive after a “global turn.”

Please join professor Moyn and invited commentators in discussing intellectual history after the global turn. The event is hosted by the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights and the Helsinki Centre for Intellectual History.

Biographies of the speakers

Samuel Moyn is professor of law and professor of history at Yale University. His areas of interest in legal scholarship include international law, human rights, the law of war, and legal thought, in both historical and current perspective. In intellectual history, he has worked on a diverse range of subjects, especially twentieth-century European moral and political theory. He has written several books in his fields of European intellectual history and human rights history, including The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (2010) and Christian Human Rights (2015). His new book, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press in April 2018. He co-edited the volumes Global Intellectual History (2013) and Rethinking Modern European Intellectual History (2014).

Josephine Hoegaerts is a cultural historian and associate professor at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests concern the creation of modern citizenship and the aesthetics and politics of the voice in the long nineteenth century. She heads the CALLIOPE project that studies how vocal performances in parliament have influenced the course of political careers and political decision making. The project offers a new perspective on political representation in studying the Second Chamber in Britain and France in dialogue with ‘colonial’ modes of speech in Kolkata and Algiers.

Johan Strang is associate professor at the Centre for Nordic Studies, University of Helsinki. Trained as a philosopher, he is interested in Scandinavian politics and twentieth-century intellectual history. His publications include studies on the history of analytic philosophy, Nordic cooperation, Nordic democracy, human rights and Scandinavian Legal Realism. Together with Stefan Nygård and Marja Jalava he has contributed to the discussion on transnational intellectual history with a small state perspective, most recently in the volume Decentering European Intellectual Space (Brill 2018).