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Polyphonic internationalism: The Lucie Zimmern School of international studies

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-10, 06:16 authored by Patricia Owens, Katharina RietzlerKatharina Rietzler
This article recovers the musician, pedagogue, institution-builder, and intellectual Lucie Zimmern (1875–1963). Together with her husband Alfred, a canonical international thinker, Zimmern founded and ran the Geneva School of International Studies (1923–1939), where she outlined and taught the principles of what we term ‘polyphonic internationalism’ to hundreds of students from across the globe: the musical texture of polyphony was an ordering principle for a world which had yet come to terms with the reality of human diversity. Zimmern’s musical formation, her complex racial, religious, and national identity, combined with her experience as a private cultural diplomat of the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale, shaped her distinctive analysis of international politics which she disseminated in academic debates, written works, and public lectures. We analyse the genesis and claims of polyphonic internationalism, overtly a culturally relativist concept that sought to reconcile national and cultural self-determination with the hierarchies of empire. Lucie Zimmern’s trajectory as a thinker and her experience as a ‘wife of the canon’ reveals the gendered politics of intellectual production in the early academic field of international relations where the boundaries between the feminised domains of culture and internationalist pedagogy, and the soon-to-be masculinised academic, and ‘scientific’ study of international relations remained surprisingly permeable.

History

Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Accepted version

Journal

The International History Review

ISSN

0707-5332

Publisher

Informa UK Limited

Page range

1-20

Department affiliated with

  • History Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date

2023-02-20

First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date

2023-02-19

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