The Global Challenge of Peace: 1919 as a Contested Threshold to a New World Order


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This book scrutinizes the events of 1919 from below: the global underside of the Wilsonian moment. During 1919 the Great Powers redrew the map of the world with the Treaties of Paris and established the League of Nations intending to prevent future war. Yet what is often missed is that 1919 was a complex threshold between war and peace contested on a global scale. This process began prior to war’s end with mutinies, labour and consumer unrest, colonial revolt but reached a high point in 1919. Most obviously, the Russian Revolutions of 1917 continued into 1919 which signalled a decisive year for the Bolshevik regime. While the leaders of the Great Powers famously drew up new states in their Parisian hotel rooms, state formation also had a popular dynamic. The Irish Republic was declared. Afghanistan gained independence. Labour unrest was widespread. This year witnessed the emergence of anti-colonial insurgency and movements across Europe’s colonies; in metropolitan centres of Empire, race riots took place in the UK and during the ‘red summer’ in the US, anti-colonial movements, as well as an important moment of political enfranchisement for women but their expulsion from the wartime labour force. 1919 has many legacies: the first Arab spring, with the awakening of nationalism in the Wilsonian and Bolshevik context; the moment (as a consequence of Jallianwala Bagh) that Britain definitively lost its moral claim to India; the definitive announcement of Black presence in the UK; the great reversal of women’s participation in the skilled occupations; the first Fascist movement was founded.

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Liverpool University Press
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