Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World

Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World

Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World

Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World

Synopsis

"This small book makes a large and provocative argument. According to Akira Iriye, scholars have been so preoccupied with high politics and state-centered activities that they have failed to pay attention to other phenomena that better explain the emergence of the contemporary world. This history of international organizations in the twentieth century is a pioneering effort to remedy that shortcoming. . . . Iriye opens up exciting new vistas on globalization and recent international history."--Frank Ninkovich, author of "The United States and Imperialism"

"This remarkable book shifts the focus of postwar international history away from Cold War rivalries and onto the astonishingly robust growth of international non-governmental organizations. A powerful voice for internationalism, Akira Iriye should be required reading for the twenty-first century."--Emily S. Rosenberg, author of "Financial Missionaries to the World"

"Non-governmental organizations now number in the tens of thousands and havefor at least a century been shaping international affairs, not to mention our individual lives. Akira Iriye's thesis--that these organizations (whose historical evolution and context we've known far too little about until this pioneering work) pieced together a globalized community while state politics often threatened to tear it apart--is vigorously argued, full of insight into historical turning points, and another of his original contributions to international history."--Walter LaFeber, Cornell University

Excerpt

I am grateful to the University of California, Berkeley, for the invitation it graciously extended to me to deliver the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Lecture in the spring of 2000. The invitation gave me the impetus to complete this manuscript; my lecture was based on one of the chapters.

I must admit that the world I describe in the book, the world in which international organizations play an important role in establishing connections among different parts of the globe, is not exactly a Jeffersonian one. Thomas Jefferson's world, both in reality and in his vision, was very different, where only a handful of international organizations existedand, we could add, only a small number of independent nations as well. How he would view the contemporary international situation and the role of the United States in it is an interesting question. But I am not attempting to answer it. My aim here is to trace the historical evolution of international organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental, since the nineteenth century, in particular during the last fifty years, and to show how they have contributed to the making of the contemporary world. That world, it seems to me, is an arena for an increasingly complex interplay of states and nonstate actors, including multinational corporations, religious organizations, regional communities, transnational private associations, and even stateless persons. It is in many ways . . .

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