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Global Peace Movements in the Era of Decolonization


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. Students from within the specialization the course belongs to have right of way. It is not accessible for BA students.


How did peace movements navigate the interlinked processes of decolonization and the Cold War? And how did these processes, in turn, impact the ability of different peace movements to come together in large international coalitions for peace? In this course, we will collectively investigate how peace activists from around the world attempted to work internationally in service of issues like disarmament, conscientious objection, and decolonization.

The twentieth century, particularly the period 1920-1970, saw a proliferation of international initiatives for peace. These took the shape of institutions and international conferences, but also of – often very mediagenic – campaigns, particularly against nuclear weapons testing in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. While many of these initiatives were ephemeral, the underlying ideas around peace and world order, and the peace activists who espoused those ideas, proved remarkably durable.

Questions this course will cover include, but are not limited to: how did existing international peace organizations attempt to include peace activists from the decolonizing world, and vice versa? How did this change the agenda of international peace work, especially in terms of prioritizing decolonization as a prerequisite for a more just and peaceful world order? How were such changes negotiated within peace movements? Using a variety of archival sources, particularly from the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam, we will collectively tackle these and other questions.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  1. The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;

  2. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;

  3. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  4. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  5. The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;

  6. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;

  7. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  8. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  9. The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  10. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subtracks as well as of the historiography of the specialisation Colonial and Global History, focusing particularly on the way global (political, socio-economic, and cultural) connections interact with regional processes of identity and state formation; hence insight in cross-cultural processes (including the infrastructure of shipping and other modes of communication) that affect regions across the world such as imperialism, colonisation, islamisation, modernisation and globalisation (in particular during the period 1200-1940);

  2. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subtrack in question, with a particular focus in the specialisation Colonial and Global History on empirical research from a comparative and connected perspective.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar

The student has acquired:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of the (intellectual) history of international pacifism from different regional perspectives, as well as a detailed understanding of a selected case study.

  2. The ability to locate and analyse source material that furthers understanding of transnational activism during the “long decolonization”.

  3. (ResMA only) The ability to work with a complex corpus of sources, and the ability to bring a historical perspective to the interdisciplinary research field of peace studies.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)

This means that students must attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the lecturer beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the lecturer will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, the student will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method


  • Written paper (6500-7500 words, based on research in primary sources, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)

measured learning objectives: 1-8, 13-14 (ResMA: also 15)

  • Oral presentation

measured learning objectives: 3-7, 9, 13 (ResMA also 10)

  • Assignment 1 (Literature Review)

measured learning objectives: 1-8, 11-13 (ResMA also 15)

  • Assignment 2 (Archival Assessment)

measured learning objectives: 1-7, 14 (ResMA also 15)


  • Written paper: 70%

  • Oral presentation: 10%

  • Assignment 1: 10%

  • Assignment 2: 10%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Brightspace.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised. 

Reading list

  • Petra Goedde, The Politics of Peace: A Global History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019). This book is digitally available through the University Library.

  • Additional articles and chapters will be made available through the reading list on Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • For course related questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.


Not applicable