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Beyond Switzerland: reframing the Swiss historical narrative in light of transnational history



This contribution serves to launch a discussion among historians interested in a transnational history of Switzerland. With the purpose of sharing information and fostering research in the field, we initiated an informal network ( and organized two workshops - one held in Zurich (March 2016) and one in Lausanne (October 2016). The upcoming annual meet- ing (in September 2017) of the Société suisse d'histoire économqiue et sociale (www.hist- will also be dedicated to a transnational history of Switzerland. Our goals are to resume and revive older endeavors in the field and to complement the discussions about different perceptions of Swiss history engendered by the anniversary year 2015 (Falk 2015; Holenstein 2015; Guzzi-Heeb 2016; Mat- ter 2016) with empirical research. Historians interested in this ongoing debate are most welcome to join the network.
Beyond Switzerland : reframing the Swiss
historical narrative in light of transnational
Autor(en): Eichenberger, Pierre / David, Thomas / Haller, Lea
Objekttyp: Article
Zeitschrift: Traverse : Zeitschrift für Geschichte = Revue d'histoire
Band (Jahr): 24 (2017)
Heft 1: Verfassung, Bürgerschaft und Schule = Constitution, citoyenneté
et école
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PDF erstellt am: 26.04.2019
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Ein Dienst der ETH-Bibliothek
ETH Zürich, Rämistrasse 101, 8092 Zürich, Schweiz,
Beyond Switzerland
Reframing the Swiss Historical Narrative
in Light of Transnational History
Pierre Eichenberger, Thomas David, Lea Haller,
Matthieu Leimgruber, Bernhard C. Schär, and Christa Wirth'
This contribution serves to launch adiscussion among historians interested in
atransnational history of Switzerland. With the purpose of sharing information
and fostering research in the field, we initiated an informal network (www. and organized two workshops -one held in Zurich
(March 2016) and one in Lausanne (October 2016). The upcoming annual meet-
ing (in September 2017) of the SocieTe suisse cTZiisfoire économique ef sociale /
Sc/iM/eizerisc/ie Gese//,scÄa/i /iir Mrfsc/zq/Zs- und Sbzia/gesc/u'c/tfe (www.hist- will also be dedicated to atransnational history of Switzerland. Our
goals are to resume and revive older endeavors in the field and to complement
the discussions about different perceptions of Swiss history engendered by the
anniversary year 2015 (Falk 2015; Holenstein 2015; Guzzi-Heeb 2016; Mat-
ter 2016) with empirical research. Historians interested in this ongoing debate
are most welcome to join the network. *
"National history is atrap", wrote historian Hans Ulrich Jost ageneration ago.
"The nation as areference for historical writing leads to such anarrow focus
that historical understanding collapses. Historical myths were created to fill in
the gaps created by this lack ofhistorical understanding" (1994: 19). Ifone were
to understand the history of Swiss society, he concluded, a"European history
of Switzerland" would be needed (35). This intellectual project was formulated
against the bulk of Swiss historiography, which was and still is characterized
by asense of national specificity -the SomZe?/aZZ Sc/iweiz (Holenstein 2014;
Tanner 2015).
Swiss historiography does not radically differ from its counterparts in other
countries, as national historical narratives have long constituted akey tenet of
nation building (Thiesse 1999; Berger/Lorenz 2010) and have decisively shaped
the "imagined communities" that nations are (Anderson 1983). National histo-
riographies do have in common the fact that they are -by definition -framed by
some "methodological nationalism", which translates into an apriori framing
of research questions, fields of investigation, the fitting of the mental horizon 137
Debate traverse 2017/1
into anational framework (Amelina et al. 2012; Wimmer/Glick Schiller 2003).
Furthermore, the most important institutions contributing to the everyday practice
of historians, such as public archives, professional associations, and historical
journals, are nationally organized and have helped develop the national framework
within which historical research evolved. To describe this framing of historical
research, geographers and historians have coined the expression "container his-
tory" (Taylor 1995; Wimmer/Glick Schiller 2002).
For historians specializing in the 19* and 20"' centuries, the national framing
of research questions is all too obvious, since nation-states have shaped this
period so deeply. Although researchers working on either the Middle Ages or
the early modern period -identifying transregional patterns of kin connections
(Teuscher 2011; Sabean/Teuscher 2011) -and those specializing in research on
extra-European regions have long acknowledged the limitations ofthe "national
container" in giving afull account of their objects of study, the national framing
of historical questions is acharacteristic of most historical writing, most ob-
viously in late modern and contemporary history. In that sense, the nationalized
vision ofhistory has tended to offer asomewhat "partial view of reality" (Con-
rad 2016: 15). Building on the pioneering work ofkey figures in the field ofsocial
and economic history -i.e., Fernand Braudel and his wide-sweeping studies of
the Mediterranean space and ofexpanding global capitalism -and influenced by
debates on the process of globalization during the 1990s and 2000s, historians
have attempted to find ways out of the national trap and have used concepts
such as "circulations" to question the primacy ofnational realities, using "trans-
national", "global", "connected", "crossed", "compared", "entangled", "shared",
or "(post)colonial" approaches.
Although these approaches have specificities that were developed in different
contexts and must not be confused, they all have in common the questioning
of the national framework in historical writing. Following aseminal definition
of transnationalism by Akira Iriye, such approaches do engage in "the study of
movements and forces that have cut across national boundaries" (2004: 213).
They have shed new light on many topics. Within the history of science, the
idea of the diffusion ofWestern knowledge to the rest of the world has been re-
placed with an understanding ofthe circulation of ideas, people, and technology
within networks and among several sites (Secord 2004; Raj 2007; Roberts 2009;
Fischer-Tiné 2013). Within migration history, the paradigm shift to transnational
migration finds its expression in the illumination of multidirectional flows of
migrants instead of the unidirectional concept of immigration, which connotes
asingle entry into anation-state (Gabaccia 1999).
Influenced by this powerful move toward transnationalism in historical schol-
138 arship -atransnational phenomenon in its own right -Swiss historians have
Eichenberger, David, Haller, Leimgruber, Schär, Wirth: Beyond Switzerland
been following the same road for quite some time. Different venues in which
to engage in transnational reframing of Swiss history have developed, and
the growing literature addressing Swiss history in this manner has explored a
multiplicity ofresearch avenues. In particular, researchers are engaged with the
transnational reframing of the national narrative in two different ways. Some
historians have situated the role ofSwitzerland within aglobal context. Pioneering
research addressed the interdependencies ofdomestic and international relations
as early as 1980, and the field has developed further ever since (Altermatt/
Garamvölgyi 1980; Mesmer 1980; Garamvölgyi 1982; Herren 1999; see also
Speich Chassé 2013). Addressing the role of Switzerland in colonialism is also
agood example of the trend toward examining Switzerland within the world.
Research in this direction has examined the role of Swiss actors -companies,
scientists, or individual migrants -in the colonial contexts of the 18"\ 19"",
and 20"' centuries. Aparticularly lively field has developed around this topic
(Menrath 2010; Purtschert et al. 2012; Brändle 2013; Etemad/Humbert 2014;
Purtschert/Fischer-Tiné 2015; Lucas 2016).
Other researchers have addressed historical objects -otherwise framed as national
objects -in theirbroader contexts. These studies tend to focus on "connections" or
"entanglements", and underline how far the roots and consequences ofso-called
"national" events were situated outside the "container". Among such studies,
economic history has been aprecursor in that it has shown that Swiss economic
history was deeply embedded in world markets (Bairoch/Körner 1990; Veyras-
sat 1993; Guex 1999b; Franc 2008; Müller 2012; Brändle 2013).
Beyond Switzerland -Questions and Definitions
Why is it still necessary to emphasize and develop a"transnational history of
Switzerland"? Historians working on transnational issues engage in the debate on
two levels: They are both addressing the role of Switzerland in aglobal context
and putting classic Swiss characteristics under afresh -transnational -light,
starting with nationalism itself. We think that atransnational history of Switzer-
land should not lead to further specialization within the historical profession.
Transnational history is not an exclusive area of research and can constitute an
important dimension of any historical object, just as the analytical category of
gender can be applied to any kindofhistorical inquiry. The challenge forhistorians
is to highlightthe added value ofthe transnational dimension in historical writing
and to expand the perspective to shed light on old and new topics.
For this endeavor, we can build on the increasing amount of research in trans-
national history on the international stage. Historians in different parts of the 139
Debate traverse 2017/1
world have challenged methodological nationalism and reframed questions
from atransnational perspective (Bender 2002b; Conrad/Osterhammel 2004;
Tyrell 2009; Laqua et al. 2012). In his introduction to Re/fi/nk/ng American
///story z'n aG/ofia/ Age, Thomas Bender wrote: "My argument and that of this
book is not for increasing the study ofAmerican foreign relations, although that
is important. The pointis that we must understand every dimension ofAmerican
life as entangled in other histories. Other histories are implicated in American
history, and the United States is implicated in other histories. This is not only
true ofthis present age of globalization; it has been since the 15"' century, when
the world for the first time became self-consciously singular" (2002a: 6).
This does not mean trying to write ahistory ofeverything, but it should encourage
historians to consider the countless entanglements that connect elements outside
and inside the "container".All in all, this should help lessen the influence of na-
tional framing somewhat and produce amore nuanced historical understanding.
It is worth making explicit that such atransnational reframing of national his-
tory possesses a"polemical dimension", as Sebastian Conrad (2016: 4) put it.
Transnational or global history "means to change the terrain on which historians
think", and therefore "constitutes an assault on many forms of container-based
paradigms, chief among them national history". To underline this polemical
dimension does not imply, however, that we seek to produce acot/ntornational
narrative. Our objective is rather to develop case studies that integrate "Swiss"
institutions, practices, and discourses into their broader historical contexts.
Conrad defined global history as "both an object of study and aparticular way of
looking at history: itis both aprocess and aperspective, subject matter and meth-
odology" (11). Heidentified threevarieties ofglobalhistory: one considering global
history as the history ofeverything, asecond seeing it as the history ofconnections,
and athird as uncovering global structures that integrate seemingly isolated events
into aglobal story (6). Favoring the third option, he proposed asomewhat limited
and carefully defined practice of global history in which historians "explicitly
situate [...] particular cases in their global contexts" (10).
So defined, global history may also make productive use of Jacques Revel's
(1996) 7'ec/zeZZes -nested scales -along with methods of comparison
(Comstock 2012; Pomeranz/McNeill 2015: 2). As Revel wrote, integrating a
"multiple contextualization" into the analysis acknowledges the fact that his-
torical actors and events are embedded in contexts at different scales, "from
the most local to the most global" (1996: 26; see also Saunier 2008). This
may lead to are-evaluation of our spatial categories altogether. Pierre-Yves
Saunier mentions the work of the sociologist Saskia Sassen as an example of
such ashift in spatial imagination: "She started from the idea of studying the
140 interaction of 'the global' and 'the local' as discrete entities, and later moved
Eichenberger, David, Haller, Leimgruber, Schär, Wirth: Beyond Switzerland
to aposition where she questioned the idea of nested scales and concentrated
instead on the way that scales are made and unmade, stressing that what we call
the 'local' is replete with elements of 'global' origins and vice versa" (Saunier
2013: 123; see Sassen 1999).
Against this background we would like to underline three particularly promising
avenues for the writing of Switzerland's transnational history. First, what we
call "a global Switzerland", which identifies the significant role Switzerland has
played outside its territory and the influence ofthese global links on its domestic
context. Second, we would like to call for areappraisal ofthe Soncfez/a/Z Sr/zwez'z.
Third, some characteristics ofthe Swiss nation-state -both at the intra-national
level (federalism or the existence of several linguistic communities) and at the
supra-national level (regarding the role of the Swiss space as an international
hub in different domains, from finance to international organizations such as the
League ofNations and the United Nations) -open up promising avenues for the
study of the interplay of different nested scales. These characteristics challenge
heuristic concepts like the alleged "small open economy" or the "global city". We
see strong potential in studies focusing on the interplay ofdifferent geographical
scales, incorporating specific cities or regions of Switzerland into broader con-
texts. Although we will explore these approaches in three different sections, we
see the following research avenues as interrelated.
AGlobal Switzerland
In comparison to other nations, Switzerland stands out as one of the most extra-
verted countries in the world, with respect to immigration and emigration,
foreign direct investments both from and in Switzerland, and tourism (in both
directions). Although Switzerland never had any actual colonial possessions, the
role of Switzerland in the context ofcolonialism has been viewed as significant.
The influence of the colonial past on the present state of Swiss society has been
acknowledged by postcolonial studies (Purtschert et al. 2012). Investigations
into the global expansion of Switzerland have taken different shapes: the study
of transnational business networks of multinational firms (Veyrassat 1993;
Dejung 2013; Haller 2016), investigations into the role ofSwitzerland in specific
colonial enterprises (Lützelschwab 2006), the role ofSwitzerland as ahub forglobal
and "colonial science" (Meier 2014; Kupper/Schär 2015; Schär 2015b; Germann
2016), the role ofSwiss missionary societies in colonial Africa and in postcolonial
"development aid" schemes (Elmer et al. 2014; Harries 2007; Kuhn 2011; Zürcher
2014), and the reappraisal ofthe role of Swiss nationals in global events such as
the slave trade (Stettler et al. 2004; Etemad et al. 2005; Fässler 2005).
Debate traverse 2017/1
The role of Switzerland as ahub for international socialist movements from the
late 19"" century until World War Iis well known (Degen/Richers 2015; Küh-
nis 2015; Vuilleumier 2012; Dullin/Studer 2016). The history of transnational
feminism has also received attention (Delaloye et al. 2016). Switzerland as a
space where Asian anti-imperialist activists resided and organized themselves
in cosmopolitan yet local Swiss networks in the early 20'*' century has been
discussed, yet calls for further exploration. For example, how did international
actors deploy rhetorical devices ofneutrality and humanitarianism to serve their
anti-colonial struggle? (Fischer-Tiné 2015; see also Stutje 2016). In recent years,
researchers have shown the fruitfulness of transnational approaches applied to
circulations of ideas and cultural practices and objects (Darnton 1995; Hau-
ser et al. 2011; van Dongen et al. 2014; Debluë 2015; Ruppen Coutaz 2016, see
also The public foundation Pro Helvetia and Swiss
diplomats disseminated aspecific image of Switzerland in the post-war period
in order to influence the perception of Switzerland abroad (Milani 2013). Trans-
national movements ofpopulations are, of course, afundamental aspect of con-
nections and entanglements. The question ofSwiss emigration -from mercenaries
leaving the Swiss Confederation for the battlefields ofEurope and the colonies to
impoverished rural people looking for abetter life in the Americas, Russia, and
other parts of the world -and the importance of "Switzerland elsewhere" for a
transnational questioning ofSwiss history have been emphasized (Schelbert 1976;
Ziegler 1985; Biisser 2012; Koller 2013; Rogger/Hitz 2014; Studer 2015: 20-21;
Huber 2016; Menrath 2016).
The concept of aglobal Switzerland, which exists outside its own frontiers,
should be investigated further, possibly through exchanges between historians
specializing in other regions of the globe (Zangger 2011; Dejung 2014). Other
specific questions deserve aprominent place in historians' research agendas. The
understanding ofthe distinctive economic successes ofSwitzerland -the precocity
of the Swiss industrial revolution and the strength of its industrial and financial
centers -would strongly benefit from atransnational reappraisal, which would
offer away to reconsider the Swiss WirAc/iq/Awnnrfer (Breiding/Schwarz 2011)
in light of its embeddedness in the global history of capitalism. In this context,
the Swiss economic relations with extra-European countries (Bott 2013) and
the question of Swiss imperialism -which is an important aspect of domination
of the Global South that does not necessarily depend on the actual possession
of colonies (Behrendt 1932; Witschi 1987; David/Etemad 1998; Lucas 2016) -
should be re-investigated.
In acomplementary way, historians should investigate the economic, social,
political, and cultural impact of other regions on Switzerland. The influence of
142 colonial contexts on domestic societies -amajortheme ofpostcolonial literature -
Eichenberger, David, Haller, Leimgruber, Schär, Wirth: Beyond Switzerland
deserves more attention. Recasting research questions in this sense is essential in
shedding new light on power relationships regarding misogyny or xenophobia.
Its potential for questioning traditional issues of Swiss history should also be
developed further, beginning with nation building itself (Harries 1998, 2007;
Purtschert et al. 2012). Countless events originating from outside ofthe national
"container" have gone unnoticed and could be investigated.
An important area of research in this regard is the history of migrant labor in
Switzerland (Skenderovic 2015). The way in which Italian workers were pub-
licly perceived as acultural threat proves astriking example of xenophobia in
the post-war period. In this respect, Italian food habits were considered apar-
ticular barrier towards integration into Swiss society (Bellofatto forthcoming).
Moreover, the presence of foreign companies in Switzerland -and the rise of
Switzerland as afinancial and industrial hub -and communities ofhighly skilled
expatriates working in these firms have received little attention until now, in
spite ofthese issues' global importance (see, however, Leimgruber 2015; Müller
2012). Considering the enormous amount offoreign private wealth managed by
Swiss banks (Mazbouri et al. 2012), atransnational history of this field is cru-
cial for understanding finance and wealth in aglobal context (Perrenoud 2011;
Farquet 2013, 2014; Derix 2014). Abetter understanding of global Switzerland
would in turn contribute to the understanding of global capitalism, which forms
the context ofSwitzerland's specific role. As Sven Beckert wrote, "capitalism has
been globe-spanning since its inception", but "for most of capitalism's history
the process of globalization and the needs of nation-states were not conflicting,
as is often believed, but instead mutually reinforced one another" (2014: xxi).
In other words, writing atransnational history does not at all mean to neglect the
nation-state. It is indeed time to consider conclusions such as the one formulated
by political economist Peter Katzenstein in 1980: "in finding 'indépendance
/'inrerrfepenJance,'the Swiss continue to nurture capitalism in one country"
(1980: 540. Original French expression: Pfister 1971: 88).
The "Sonderfall Schweiz" Reconsidered
The self-representation and self-understanding of Switzerland as aspecial case
in Swiss historiography cannot be ignored, either. Building on recent studies
on this exceptionalist narrative (Kreis 2014; Tanner 2015), it seems to us that a
reappraisal ofthis characteristic may be fruitful for future research. The way his-
torians have addressed Switzerland's self-stylization as apeaceful society marked
by political consensus is acase in point (Guex et al. 2001; Jost 2001 Additional
narrative layers of Swiss exceptionalism encompassing political institutions, 143
Debate traverse 2017/1
Republicanism, and neutrality, should be reassessed. Thereby, comparison could
be apowerful tool; for instance, one could compare countries that share specific
characteristics like being "alpine" or being termed "small open economies"
(Katzenstein 1985; they might actually turn out to be "big open economies, see
Guex 1999a; Tanner 2015: 27). Belgium or the Netherlands would be particularly
suited for such acomparison (see for example Herren 2000; Holenstein et al.
2008; Straumann 2010).
Comparison alone cannot, however, conclusively assess national characteristics,
because the comparative approach tends to consider national unities again as
"containers" (Werner/Zimmermann 2006; Verbruggen et al. 2012: 1213) and
underestimates the historical evolution and the interconnectivity of characteris-
tics like neutrality, openness, et cetera and the mutual influences or connections
between them. The study of transnational connections would open the door for
acarefully integrated and contextualized reappraisal of events, structures, and
discourses that are supposed to be specific or unique. The concept of "invented
traditions" for the purpose ofnation building (Hobsbawm/Ranger 1983) could be
useful in this sense, as has been shown with regard to how global discourses on
"noble savages" in the Americas and the Pacific framed Swiss national identities
revolving around alpine peasant societies (Schär 2012,2015a).
The reappraisal of the .S'om/er/a// Sc/nveiz should not, however, be limited to
examining Swiss exceptionalismthrough comparison and through acontextualized
study ofconnections outside the "container" ofthe nation. Both the meaning and
the strategic use of the .S'cmc/er/à// image should be questioned. Swiss neutral-
ity -during both world wars of the 20"" century -has attracted much attention
and can serve as apertinent case. Neutrality has been idealized in such away
that its origins have been situated in aremote past; its history has been told in
ateleological way until now. Neutrality can best be addressed as acommunica-
tive strategy developed in specific geopolitical situations (Moos 2001; Speich
Chassé 2012). One could also wonder about how neutrality has been used in both
political and economic spheres. In 1912, AdolfJöhr (1878-1953), the secretary
of the Swiss National Bank and future Director of the Credit Suisse, stated in
77ie Economy o/,S'vv/7zcr/an<r/ in C' o/' War (Die Volkswirtschaft der Schweiz
im Kriegsfall) "that if Switzerland remained neutral [in afuture war], it could
expect the influx ofaconsiderable amount ofmoney from neighboring countries
into Swiss banks, which would produce handsome revenues" (1912: 194). The
further exploration of Switzerland as anation-state that propagates neutrality,
pursues its economic interests, and has lived through two world wars without
foreign occupation seems promising.
Eichenberger, David, Haller, Leimgruber, Schär, Wirth: Beyond Switzerland
Nested Scales -The Global, the Local, and in Between
It is now widely acknowledged that historical writing should handle the different
scales of reality in some complex /ewx c/'ec/re/fes (Revel 1996), from the very
local to the very global (see also Middell/Naumann 2010; Epple 2012: 167-170).
"In the end", wrote Jan Rüger, "European history writing will have to move
between several levels of analysis and narrative, shifting between comparative
and transnational as well as between micro and macro perspectives, linking the
many 'very small places' that make up Europe with regional, national and global
history" (2010: 663). We have also already mentioned Conrad's idea of writing
global history in away to "explicitly situate [...] particular cases in their global
contexts" (2016: 10). This is not only aquestion of scale. Primarily, it means to
acknowledge that historical events or shifts, which may at first glance be oflocal
importance only, are actually embedded inlarger transregional frames ofreference.
Swiss society has some particularities that make it especially interesting as
an object of investigation for such aresearch program. The Swiss nation-state
emerged from aprocess that unified a"multiheaded" federation and stood out
in the 19"" century as aparticularly loose form offederal construction that gave
important autonomy to the cantons (Osterhammel 2014: 409^410). Historians
would benefit from addressing such questions as: What implications did Swiss
internal heterogeneity have for the transnational connections made by Switzer-
land? What ifmuch of what has been said about Switzerland would in fact be
better applied to specific cantons or cities (Schär 2015b: 38-125)? In asimilar
vein: What if, although official diplomacy became the exclusive premise ofthe
Confederation in 1848, most of what left and entered the container should be
studied not at the national but the regional or local level?
One such inquiry could start with the city of Geneva -the seat of the League
ofNations and the United Nations -which is positioned as an international hub
but cannot avoid local, national, and global contextualization (Farquet 2014;
Meyer 2013, see also the History of International Organizations Network
[HION],, and the tools developed by the Diplomatic Documents
of Switzerland,
Conclusion: An Empirical Approach to Transnational Issues
We hope this briefoutline will contribute to promoting transnational history as a
specific way oflooking at history -in the sense of/Vob/emcfe/iniYiora m;Y g/o&a/em
Ansprnc/r (Osterhammel 2001: 469)3 Transnational or global history is obviously
important in some areas and forsome subjects such as neutrality, banking secrecy, 145
Debate traverse 2017/1
or racial stereotypes, which are deeply entangled in multiple contexts on aglobal
stage. Transnational or global historians should not, however, limit themselves
to such subjects. Other subjects, less obviously entangled, should be addressed
based on careful empirical studies tracing Le G/oèa/ art (Garufo 2015),
as well as specific domains or professions -technology, scientific knowledge,
medical practices, architecture, sports, and many others.
Finally, atransnational approach should not be restricted to contemporary
history. The project should include case studies from the medieval and early
modern periods. This project can be nothing less than acollective venture, and
the relevant research questions can only be shaped by an empirical approach to
the investigated topic.
1Afirst version ofthis article was discussed at the workshop "Transnational Histories
of Switzerland", University ofZurich, 24"' March 2016. The authors are grateful to partici-
pants for their comments. We would also like to thank Claude Hauser and François Vallotton
for their helpful comments.
2Osterhammel gives credit to Jürgen Kocka for this wording.
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wie ländlichen Räumen, in der
Kommunalentwicklung, in der
Politik der städtischen Zentren.
Diese reagieren auf die
multinationalisierte Wirtschaft
häufig mit dem Umbau ihrer
Verwaltungen nach unternehme-
rischen Prinzipien, was die
Bedingungen der politischen
Mitbestimmung grundlegend
224 Seiten; Fr. 25.-
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35. Jg./2.Halbjahr 2016
... An emerging yet long overdue and groundbreaking debate about Switzerland's position on the margins of colonialism (Fischer-Tin e, 2015: 221, see also Eichenberger et al., 2017;Ogle, 2020, but see Ziegler, 1978, for a much earlier critique) enables us to put the notion of complicity into sharper focus. Scrutinizing the history of a formally non-colonizing country to learn about complicity bears critical challenges: We acknowledge that Switzerland is neither a homogeneous national container, nor can the multifold connections associated with Swiss colonial entanglements be plausibly attributed to Switzerland as a whole. ...
... In many ways, the maxim of neutrality made Switzerland central to European colonialism; the country's presumed outsider position as a neutral mediator opened up multiple forms of participation and reaped attendant economic benefits. The guise of neutrality allowed Swiss trading houses to profit from transit trade (Haller, 2019), including the slave trade (F€ assler, 2006), for instance in the raw materials used in Zurich's textile industry (Brengard et al., 2020); it facilitated the participation in academic (Sch€ ar, 2015) and religious missions (see Eichenberger et al., 2017 for a more complete review). Furthermore, the neutrality of Switzerland entangled the country in processes of exploitation that accompanied decolonization, when the depositing of colonial wealth in Swiss banks became a cornerstone of the country's continuing global importance in international banking (Ogle, 2020: 225). 2 Understanding the functions of complicity in the context of Swiss neutrality politics can begin by considering how complicity can function by exploiting neutrality, when it "neutralizes" or depoliticizes profound political questions like national identity. ...
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Critiques of the parochialism of urban theory have resulted in appeals for more global urban studies. Yet, the fruitful responses to postcolonial work frequently remain sequestered, reflecting the persistence of Eurocentrism as a burden shouldered largely by the so-called "South". This paper aims to shift the work implied by critiques of Eurocentrism-from the labor of translation to the chore of representation-to those whom Eurocentrism serves. We argue that recognizing the ways academics are always already complicit in Eurocentrism by working within the academy is an important starting point. Can the functions of complicity also serve to redistribute the burdens of redress and allow cultivating new possibilities to respond? To understand the functions of complicity, we take inspiration from the historical position of Switzerland on "the margins" of colonialism. Scrutinizing the history of a formally non-colonizing country reveals multiple forms of taking part in, benefitting from and assisting in colonial efforts. Applying these learnings to institutional and epistemological possibilities of working with complicity in the academy, we interrogate the potentials and limits of these functions to address the reproduction of Eurocentrism.
... The historiography of Swiss neutrality has long served as an explanation of the specificity of the case, especially during the Cold War. 2 Since the 1990s, some historians appealed for a history of Switzerland from a transnational perspective. 3 The underlying thesis of this article is that the comparison with other similar small neutral states shows clearly that public diplomacy in Switzerland proceeded more from a shared model than from an exceptional one. Beyond specific national frameworks, we will also highlight some of the shared characteristics of neutral public diplomacy. ...
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The Cold War constituted a major challenge for small neutral states forced to justify their political positioning. Neutrality, criticized or misunderstood, became a major issue for diplomats. Comparing the case of Switzerland with that of Sweden, Finland and Austria shows the immediate post-war period to be a key moment during which the original mechanisms of public diplomacy to justify their neutrality were developed. Presented as a political weapon, neutrality was also integrated within discourse on national identity. There are enough similarities with regard to public diplomacy in these small neutral states to identify a model that is specific to them.
... Ce dernier point donnera aux historiens du sport la possibilité de créer un dialogue avec des collègues suisses et étrangers travaillant dans les domaines de l'élite culturelle, économique, politique et scientifique. À ce titre, et last but not least, ce projet contribuera -et nous l'espérons sincèrement -à faire reconnaître le sport comme un domaine de recherche désormais légitime au sein d'une historiographie suisse elle-même en plein renouvellement (Eichenberger et al., 2017). ...
This chapter presents the use of a Chinese geopolitical tool (the Three Worlds Theory) by the Swiss Maoist Party (Parti communiste suisse / marxiste-léniniste) during the 1970s and the 1980s.
In den neueren Diskussionen über den Kolonialismus wird vermehrt dem »Kolonialismus ohne Kolonien« Beachtung geschenkt: Auf welche Weise waren auch solche europäischen Länder involviert, die selbst nicht als Kolonialmacht aufgetreten sind? Und wie wirken sich diese Verstrickungen auf die postkoloniale Gegenwart aus? Der Band geht diesen Fragen am Beispiel der postkolonialen Schweiz nach und stößt damit auch die längst überfällige Rezeption der Postcolonial Studies in der Schweiz an. Mit Beiträgen von Christine Bischoff, Christof Dejung, Sara Elmer, Francesca Falk, Gaby Fierz, Alexander Honold, Rohit Jain, Franziska Jenni, Meral Kaya, Christian Koller, Konrad J. Kuhn, Barbara Lüthi, Martin Mühlheim, Patricia Purtschert, Bernhard C. Schär, Daniel Speich Chassé und einem Vorwort von Shalini Randeria.
Forty-three essays about modern world history is both too many and too few, and to begin c. 1750 is both too late and too early. We could not do everything, and have chosen to exhibit a wide variety of approaches to world history - focusing on regions, moments, commodities, large social processes, themes, and so on - rather than providing many examples of any one of these approaches. Sometimes our choice within categories was guided by the availability of a particular author, sometimes by a sense that one example was indeed more important than another, and sometimes by a concern for some other sort of balance. (If some topics seemed likely to yield essays in which, say, Latin America was much more prominent than the Middle East, we were that much more inclined to look for another in which the Middle East would figure prominently.) But ultimately, our offerings are much like those of chefs whose evening menus depend on what happened to be in the market this morning. We make no claim to telling the entire story, and many essays must stand not only for themselves, but also as illustrative of a certain thread in world history. We hope that readers will find that an essay on rubber or automobiles in modern world history suggests ideas about what global histories of coffee or railways might look like, or an essay on global 1956 what an essay on global 1968 might be. If so, we will be content with having perhaps whetted their appetites for more in this diverse and sprawling field. Our chronology is also, inevitably, somewhat arbitrary, and we have been happy to let authors violate it where they thought it made sense to do so. In fact, all the volumes of this set have a somewhat ragged and overlapping chronology - that is a feature of the program, not a bug.