Ideas and Identities

A Festschrift for Andre Liebich

by Jaci Eisenberg (Volume editor) Davide Rodogno (Volume editor)
©2014 Others 270 Pages


This volume gathers contributions at the intersection of history and politics. The essays, covering such topics as diverse as Italian identity in the Tientsin concession, international refugee policies in the interwar period and after, and the myths and realities of the Ukrainian-Russian encounter in independent Ukraine, show that history provides better grounding as well as a more suitable paradigm for the study of politics than economics or other hard sciences. All of the contributors have a common link – doctoral work supervised and shaped by Professor Andre Liebich – but have since expanded widely in the world. Hence, the authors of this work at once share a common base and yet benefit from diverse viewpoints.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Editors
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Ideas and Identities: Theory and Practice in the 20th Century and Beyond: Jaci Eisenberg and Davide Rodogno
  • Ideas and Concepts in History: Some Historiographic Reflections: Dominic Eggel
  • Historiography
  • Ten key questions for intellectual historians
  • 1. What is the unit of study?
  • 2. How to access the past?
  • 3. Which sources to use?
  • 4. What is the degree of autonomy of ideas?
  • 5. What role to attribute to the human subject and its psyche?
  • 6. What importance to attribute to present concerns?
  • 7. What importance to attribute to diachrony and synchrony?
  • 8. What contexts to take into consideration and how to reconstruct the text-context nexus?
  • 9. What is the function of an idea?
  • 10. How to explain change?
  • Recent trends in intellectual history, and concluding thoughts
  • Citizenship and Identity Issues in the Italian Concession of Tientsin (1902–1922): Sabina Donati
  • Introduction
  • The Italian concession: historical origin and population
  • Rights of foreigners, rights of citizens, and notions of otherness in Italian Tientsin
  • Subjecthood, nationhood and World War One: The civic odyssey of the “irredenti”
  • Conclusion
  • Technocracy and Totalitarianism: Paolo Fortunati from Corporative to Marxist Statistics: Jean-Guy Prévost
  • Science and politics as a vocation
  • Theory, methodology and the logic of inquiry
  • The politics of planning
  • Conclusion
  • Two Eras of Refugee Policy: Legacies of the League of Nations in the 1940s: Francesca Piana
  • Introduction
  • Refugee movements
  • Institutional machinery
  • Mise en parallèle
  • 1. The International Committee of the Red Cross
  • 2. Competing Ideologies
  • 3. Porous boundaries of the international refugee regime
  • 4. Repatriation
  • Conclusion
  • Kurdish Nation Formation in Turkey: The Role of Modernization in the Transition to Phase C: Özcan Yilmaz
  • Kurds and Kurdistan before the 20th century
  • Emergence and breakdown of the Kurdish National Movement, 1890s–1920s
  • New “national agitation” and mass mobilisation
  • The End of the Post-Cold War World: Do We Have Now What We Expected Then?: Mario Apostolov
  • Great expectations
  • Stolen revolutions?
  • New prosperity zone or a new periphery?
  • Let the state back in?
  • Conclusions
  • The Former Soviet States and United Nations General Assembly Politics: An Analysis of Voting Behaviours: Anna Mkhoyan
  • Introduction
  • Post-Soviet States and the New International Structure
  • The Voting Record of the Post-Soviet States at the UNGA
  • Conclusion
  • Deconstructing the Ukrainian Nation-State: Myths and Realities of the Ukrainian-Russian Encounter in Independent Ukraine: Oksana Myshlovska
  • Transformation of Ukraine: Core Trends
  • 1. From a multicultural region to a bi-ethnic and bilingual state
  • 2. Ethnic and linguistic and shift over the last two decades
  • Constructing and Institutionalizing the Myths
  • 1. “A state-constituting role” of the Ukrainian nation
  • 2. “The Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine”
  • 3. Institutionalizing the myths
  • The Myths and the Complex Reality
  • Conclusions
  • Apologizing for Srebrenica: The Declaration of the Serbian Parliament, the European Union, and the Politics of Compromise: Jasna Dragović-Soso
  • Defining crime and responsibility: Srebrenica, Serbia and international justice institutions
  • The politics of acknowledging Srebrenica: Serbian divisions, 2005–7
  • Achieving the Srebrenica Declaration: European aspirations and the politics of compromise, 2008–10
  • Conclusion: Apologies, state power and external actors
  • Europeanization of the Western Balkans: New Regional Perspectives: Lana Srzic
  • Introduction
  • EU and the Western Balkans
  • The evolving discourse of Europeanization
  • Croatia
  • Serbia
  • Western Balkans as an entity
  • Conclusion
  • Decolonizing Nationalism: Indian Postcolonial Scholars and Nationalist Thought: Anne-Sophie Bentz
  • Introduction
  • I. Existing Theories on Nation and Nationalism
  • A. Limits of Nationalism as a Project
  • B. The Methods used by Scholars of Nationalism
  • C. Nationalism as a Problem
  • II. Thinking Anew on Nation and Nationalism?
  • A. Power and Knowledge in Postcolonial Nationalisms
  • B. Nation as a Discourse
  • 1) A Discourse of Power
  • 2) The Nation as a Narrative Strategy
  • C. Nationalist Thought and Politics of Nationalism
  • 1) Intellectuals and Activists
  • 2) The Thematic and the Problematic
  • 3) Passive Revolution
  • Conclusion
  • History and Politics: Happy Marriage, Unhappy Divorce: Andre Liebich
  • I
  • II
  • III
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Tabula Gratulatoria


This volume is derived from scientific contributions presented at a one-day colloquium, “Ideas and Identities,” organized by the co-editors in honor of Andre Liebich on the occasion of his retirement. The colloquium was held at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva, Switzerland on 3 May 2013.

The editors would like to thank Philippe Burrin, Director of the Graduate Institute, and Gareth Austin, 2012–2013 Chair of the Graduate Institute’s Department of International History, for their material support towards the successful one-day colloquium on “Ideas and Identities” held at the Graduate Institute in Geneva on 3 May 2013. Without their assistance the success of the conference from which these works are derived would not have been possible. The editors would also like to thank Valérie von Daeniken of the Graduate Institute’s Department of International History for her logistical assistance with the preparation of the conference. Chairs Vicken Cheterian, Emmanuel Dalle Mulle, and Barbara Martin provided excellent intellectual participation the day of the conference. The late Hayat Salam-Liebich provided many wonderful photos for the slideshow which was presented at the closing of the colloquium.

The editors thank Marc Galvin of the Publications Department at the Graduate Institute for his material support towards publication of this volume, as well as the services of his department towards the typesetting of the volume. Thanks also to Emmanuel Dalle Mulle and Barbara Martin who both provided critical commentary on several contributions between the conference and the publication of this volume. ← 9 | 10 → ← 10 | 11 →

Ideas and Identities: Theory and Practice in the 20th Century and Beyond


To mark the retirement of International History and Politics Professor Andre Liebich in mid-2013, the Department of International History of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) hosted a conference in his honour. The scientific colloquium “Ideas and Identities,” held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 3 May 2013, sought to explore the bounds of one scholar’s influence. The participants, drawn exclusively from the pool of Professor Liebich’s formal doctoral students, showed that those with a common knowledge base can and do expand their intellectual horizons broadly.

The two guiding threads directing the colloquium (now furnishing the title of this volume) summarized the main themes of Andre Liebich’s intellectual output to date. “Ideas” was indicative of his varied early interests. Curiosity about Hegel and in Socialism matured into a doctoral dissertation on August Cieszkowski.1 Questions of exile politics led to a study on the first Russian emigration, which was soon centred to ← 11 | 12 → focus on the Mensheviks.2 More general interests in the reach of “ideas” led to his authorship of the celebrated (authoritative) textbook on Le libéralisme classique.3 “Identities” was taken to broadly define his interests once he attained Geneva in 1989: work on nations, nationalisms, and citizenship, whether academic or policy-oriented.4 Andre Liebich and his students conceive of and study ideas with specific historical contexts in mind. They work on the ways ideas emerged, blossomed, and existed in specific intellectual, political, local, national, regional, and international contexts. They examine the discrepancy(ies) between the apparent perfection of ideas when elaborated by intellectuals, academics, philosophers, thinkers, or politicians, and their clash with reality. “Identities” examined in these volume intertwine with “ideas.” “Identities” are wrapped around “ideas”; they are an intelligible analytical category that allows contributors to go beyond the confined space of a single individual, beyond citizen(s) living in a single nation. “Identities” are permeable spaces; spaces of co-existence of conflicts and tensions, and of construction. “Identities” change; they evolve over time, with several intended and un-intended consequences explored in the chapters of this volume. One of the threads of the book, and one of the many lessons Andre Liebich’s work taught us is about the inter-penetration and ever-changing relation of ← 12 | 13 → politics with history a conditio sine qua non to study “ideas” and “identities.” It is on the relation of politics with history and vice versa that Andre Liebich’s coda concludes this volume.

It was not unusual that Andre Liebich should have been interested in both “ideas” and “identities” over the span of his career: both his personal background and his academic training opened such paths. Personally, as a British citizen of Polish origin, who later adopted Canada, Lebanon, and Switzerland as additional (official and unofficial) homelands, and who is conversant in a generous handful of European languages, he constantly explored, mediated, and navigated among different cultures, heritages, histories, and politics, and continues to do so today. Professionally, a multitude of interactions nudged him on this path: from early contact with the Canadian political philosopher Charles Taylor at McGill University, who would become a friend and inspiration in his undergraduate years and remain one for life, to his graduate work under the eminent Polish-American Sovietologist Adam Ulam at Harvard, who had attended school with Andre Liebich’s father in L’viv (in what is today Ukraine).

The scientific contributions presented at the 2013 colloquium demonstrated how scholars with a common knowledge base can and have expanded and applied their skills and methodologies to varied and new fields of inquiry. In particular, the presentations demonstrated the myriad of nuanced ways in which history and politics have interacted in situations spanning the 20th century and beyond – war and postwar periods, declarations of independence, and new regimes. Some contributions surveyed philosophies, others analysed past events; and many focused on what would be deemed current history.

This volume proceeds roughly chronologically. It begins with a contribution by Dominic Eggel, who aims to schematize the work of intellectual historians. His survey scans philosophers from Plato to Foucault. In so doing, he provides a primer of ten key questions which intellectual historians have sought to answer over the years. Sabina Donati’s archive-based work on the various residents and citizens of the Italian concession of Tientsin in the early 20th century returns us to the concept of identities. Weaving the complex web faced by citizens and expatriates, she shows how concepts of national identity, loyalty, and homeland in the concession were heavily context-dependent and defy any sort of overarching conclusion. Jean-Guy Prévost shows the interrelation between ideas and identities with his fascinating tale of Italian statistician Paolo Fortunati: ← 13 | 14 → during the Second World War, Fortunati made an apparently incongruous and paradoxical leap from Fascism to Communism. Prévost’s work additionally addresses themes of expertise and its use by and links with political regimes. Closing out the first half of the 20th century, Francesca Piana navigates how the concept of “refugees” was constructed and dealt with by the international community in the early 20th century. In so doing she adopts a path-breaking frame of analysis, one which seeks to highlight continuities between League of Nations-era efforts and the post-war United Nations.

Our coverage of the second half of the 20th century begins with Özcan Yilmaz’s examination of Kurdish nationalism. Borrowing from the political science toolkit, Yilmaz explores the particularities of the transition from Miroslav Hroch’s Phase B to Phase C in the Kurdish nation-state formation. Mario Apostolov propels us further forward, contrasting the hopes of the immediate post-Cold War period with the situation today. His nuanced analysis, based on experience incurred during his career, shows that while many improvements have been made in the daily life of citizens of post-Soviet states, the expectations in 1989–1991 today remain only partially fulfilled. Anna Mkhoyan and Oksana Myshlovska further elaborate on Apostolov’s topic, selecting and zooming in on certain pieces of the puzzle. Mkhoyan’s careful analysis of the resolutions passed by a sampling of the UN General Assembly sessions from 1997 to 2013 covers both ideas and identities. In focusing on votes generated by some hot-button topics (for example, resolutions on disarmament and security, or on human rights-related issues), she shows how, on the whole, post-Soviet states fall into one of two voting patterns in the UN: predominantly aligned with the EU, or a sort-of Soviet bloc. Myshlovska probes identities in post-USSR Ukraine through a close examination of the results of a 2013 sociological survey. Through empirical evidence, she shows how the national Ukrainian narrative about what it means to identify as Ukrainian is far more nuanced than a survey or single definition can convey.

Two contributions focus on recent European Union identity politics. Jasna Dragovic-Soso’s exploration of the international political aftermath of the Srebrenica massacre shows the influence and limits of European ideas about and measures towards reconciliation. In so doing, she demonstrates that well-intentioned EU ideas do not always prove to be the best adapted for EU candidate states. Lana Srzic continues this theme, dis ← 14 | 15 → cussing the effects of the Europeanization with an eye towards EU accession in the Western Balkans. Alongside this analysis she discusses the situations under which more limited regional efforts could be successful. Anne-Sophie Bentz provides the closing reflection from former students – one that propels us out of Europe and Western thought: she explores the curious question of why Indian postcolonial scholars and traditional scholars of nationalism have not been in dialogue with each other.

Andre Liebich, the maestro of this cohort, concludes with a reflection on the two fields that served as the basis of his academic career: political science, and then history. This “marriage” was born of experience: when he arrived in Geneva in 1989, the situation in Eastern Europe, and thus his research interests, shifted practically day-by-day. His first class at the Graduate Institute’s predecessor HEI, on the Socialist bloc, benefitted from history in the making. As the semester went on, many of the countries covered by the course ceased to be Socialist week-by-week. It was this watershed experience of living through the upheaval beginning in 1989 which pushed him over the line from political science to history, where we have found him ever since. At the end of his teaching career, in examining the pleasant rapprochement and later acrimonious divorce between the two disciplines, Liebich urges mutual understanding of both fields in order to combat the in-ward looking tendencies of both. In harmonious coherence with his long academic and human experience, Andre Liebich’s plaidoyer for the contaminatio of academic disciplines is a sober, lucid address to future generations of scholars. Those who contributed to this volume and the many others who collaborated to its making have been inspired by Andre Liebich’s wise and precious suggestion. ← 15 | 16 → ← 16 | 17 →

1“My interest in Cieszkowski came out of my interest in Hegel and in early socialism. The former interest was awakened by Raymond Polin, a visiting professor at Harvard from Paris, who had a seminar on Hegel. Through him, I came to Alexandre Kojève’s gloss on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and I was completely enraptured. I learned about Cieszkowski from another visitor at Harvard, Miguel Abensour, who taught a seminar on the Utopian Socialists. Abensour thought that since Cieszkowski wrote his messianic theology in Polish, his Hegelian philosophy in German, and his social thought in French, I could deal with him properly.” Email of Andre Liebich to the editors, 27 January 2014. His work on Cieszkowski resulted in two key works: Andre Liebich, Between Ideology and Utopia: The Politics and Philosophy of August Cieszkowski, Sovietica 39 (D. Reidel: Dordrecht, 1979), and the Selected Writings of August Cieszkowski, edited and translated with an introductory essay by Andre Liebich, published in the series Studies in the History and Theory of Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979; republished in 2010).

2“My interest in Mensheviks was an outcome of my interest in the possibilities of exile politics. Sometime around 1980, I intended to write a history of the first Russian emigration, the one that followed the Revolution of 1917, a seminal event in the history of the 20th century. The Mensheviks, with their nuanced understanding of Marxism and their agonized debates on the course that the Soviet Union was taking, caught my attention and, even more, my sympathy. Moreover, my research on the Mensheviks put me in touch with the most marvelous people, veteran socialists from all countries, including some who called themselves ‘American Mensheviks’.” Email of Andre Liebich to the editors, 27 January 2014. His work on the Mensheviks was notably published as Andre Liebich, From the Other Shore: Russian Social Democracy after 1921 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), which received the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History in 1995.

3Andre Liebich Le libéralisme classique (Quebec: PUQ, 1985).

4A selection: Andre Liebich and Daniel Warner with Jasna Dragovic, Citizenship, East and West (London: Kegan Paul International, 1995); Andre Liebich, Les Minorités nationales en Europe centrale et orientale (Geneva: Georg, 1997); Andre Liebich and Basil Germond, eds., Construire l’Europe (Paris: PUF, 2008).


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (June)
history politics myths realities
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 270 pp., num. figures

Biographical notes

Jaci Eisenberg (Volume editor) Davide Rodogno (Volume editor)

Jaci Eisenberg is a Swiss National Science Foundation-funded Researcher in the Department of International History at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Davide Rodogno is Associate Professor of International History at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.


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