Introduction to the history of international relations

De Baripedia

Based on a lesson by Ludovic Tournès[1][2][3]

The study of international relations extends far beyond the simple analysis of interactions between nations. It delves deep into history, exploring the shifting power dynamics, ambitions and tensions that have shaped our world. This course offers a comprehensive introduction to the international issues that have shaped history from the nineteenth century to the present day.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the world was dominated by great empires. The emerging and evolving international system was shaped by the balance of power between these entities. These balances, however, were constantly being challenged, not least by the shifting alliances and persistent tensions between the major powers. The advent of the Industrial Revolution amplified these tensions, transforming economic power into military might and exacerbating colonial and imperial ambitions.

Colonisation, with its complex processes and varied motivations, has left an indelible mark on world history. As colonial powers extended their influence, colonised territories were often marked by resistance and anti-colonial movements. However, the twentieth century was profoundly marked by two world wars. These conflicts not only redefined borders and balances of power, but also led to the creation of new international organisations, such as the UN, designed to keep the peace.

The post-Second World War period was characterised by the Cold War, an ideological and geopolitical struggle between the superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. Despite the polarisation into East-West blocs, the world also witnessed a rapid process of decolonisation, giving rise to new states. These states, faced with their own challenges, often sought to navigate the international system as part of the non-aligned movement, highlighting the specific issues of the Third World.

However, the twentieth century was not without economic challenges. The great recessions tested the resilience of the international system, prompting a variety of political and economic responses and the emergence of new economic powers. As we enter the 21st century, new challenges have arisen. Climate change, international terrorism, globalisation and technological revolutions have all influenced, and continue to influence, the way nations interact.

Banquet of the Amsterdam Civil Guard celebrating the Peace of Münster (1648), exhibited in the Rijksmuseum, by Bartholomeus van der Helst.

Lectures[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Perspectives on the studies, issues and problems of international history

Part I: The evolution of geopolitical balances[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Chapter 1 - Europe at the centre of the world: from the end of the 19th century to 1918

Chapter 2 - The era of the superpowers: 1918 - 1989

Chapter 3 - A multipolar world: 1989 - 2011

Part Two: Between nationalism, regionalism and universalism: the logics of the contemporary world system[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The International System in Historical Context: Perspectives and Interpretations

Chapter 4 - The beginnings of the contemporary international system: 1870 - 1939

Chapter 5 - World War II and the remaking of the world order: 1939 - 1947

Chapter 6 - The international system in the test of bipolarisation: 1947 - 1989

Chapter 7 - The post-Cold War system: 1989 - 2012

Related courses[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The issue of Daech: issues and challenges

References[modifier | modifier le wikicode]