Recently, Dr. Joseph Hodge was invited to present the opening lecture for the Master’s Degree Course on Local and Global Development at the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy. The lecture, titled “Development and Its Experts: From Colonial to Postcolonial Times”, took place on September 20, 2016. Dr. Hodge was welcomed by Professor Mario Zamponi, Coordinator of the Local and Global Development Program, and by Dr. Massimiliano Trentin, Professor of History and International Relations of the Middle East, who gave the introductory remarks. The lecture was sponsored by the Department of Political and Social Sciences and the Center of Historical and Political Studies on Africa and the Middle East at the University of Bologna.
Dr. Hodge introduced students to his current research on former British colonial officials and advisers who were employed subsequently in “postcolonial” careers working in international development or other related fields overseas. Many colonial officers who were hired after the Second World War ended up working for various international and intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies and specialized agencies, or else for UK based overseas aid agencies after they retired from the colonial service. Many also continued serving in former colonial territories for a number of years following independence, or were hired as advisers by international companies and consultancy firms. In other words, their careers were not simply imperial or even transnational, but also trans-historical. Their career patterns and life histories establish connections between different places and times that conventionally have been thought of as separate and distinct geographical spaces or historical periodizations. Most crucially, their careers and work experiences reveal an important human (and not simply intellectual or ideological) thread of continuity across the seemingly fundamental rupture of decolonization and independence. In mapping these postcolonial career patterns and trajectories, Dr. Hodge made the case for the continued and varied involvement of former British colonial personnel in postcolonial international affairs.
During his visit to Italy, Dr. Hodge was also invited to participate in a two-day workshop on “Technologies of Stateness: International Organizations and the Making of States”. The workshop took place at the European University Institute in Florence on September 15 & 16, 2016. It was organized by Guy Sinclair of the Victoria University of Wellington and Nehal Bhuta, Professor of Public International Law at the European University Institute, and was co-funded by the Academy of European Law and the Victoria University of Wellington.
The workshop aimed to explore the state-making activities of international organizations. Most mainstream accounts in international law and international relations view states as the principal actors in world politics, and international organizations as secondary, supporting actors. In these accounts, states create international organizations to pursue shared goals, solve coordination problems, and produce public goods. More recently, constructivist and historical institutional approaches in international relations have opened up new insights into the internal cultural lives of international organizations, and their role in the production and diffusion of cultural norms and values. Separately, a growing body of scholarship at the intersections of sociology, anthropology, history and governmentality studies has examined state formation as a cultural process, defining “the state” in nominalist terms and exposing the specific assemblages of rationales, techniques, programmes, practices and representations that make up states at different times and places. Yet despite these productive turns, very little attention has been given to the roles of international organizations in state formation. The workshop sought to fill this gap in the scholarship, illuminating the diversity of ways in which international organizations have contributed to the construction of states over the past two centuries.