Research seminar: Liberia’s case of forced labour

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Event Date: 2018-10-29

On Monday 29 October at 2.30 pm in room 1222 a research seminar ‘In defiance of humanitarian imperialism: Liberia’s case of forced labour before the League of Nations’ will be given by Mr. Quincy Cloet. Collegium Civitas students are cordially invited to participate in the seminar.

In 1929, the independent African republic of Liberia stood accused on the international stage for bolstering schemes that coerced the country’s native population into forced labour. Practices of domestic slavery and coerced work were common during the inter-war years in parts of the African continent, yet, only the ‘black republic’ of Liberia came under intense scrutiny. Through an international inquiry organised with the help of the League of Nations, Liberia was pushed to allow western experts to study all aspects of the forced labour scandal and present its recommendations. Was Liberia at the will of the great powers and their imperial interests – which had resisted inquiry elsewhere into colonial and mandated Africa – or did it represent an opportunity to defend the sovereignty of the Liberian state? The presentation touches upon one of the most fascinating investigations of its era, addressing questions of imperial internationalism, civilizational hierarchy and the nature of (impartial) expertise. It is framed as part of a wider project on the League’s inquiry commissions and the relationship between knowledge production and political decision-making.

Quincy R. Cloet is a final-year PhD candidate at the Department of International Politics of the University of Aberystwyth. He is an associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the outgoing book reviews editor for the Journal of Contemporary European Research. Last year, he co-edited a volume on the First World War, entitled Breaking Empires, Making Nations? The First World War and the Reforging of Europe. Since September 2018, he is based in Warsaw as a visiting fellow at Collegium Civitas.