Gränslösa anspråk: Offentliga möten och skapandet av det internationella, 1840–1860

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Universitetshuset, sal X, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Kihlberg, Jakob
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Institutionen för idé- och lärdomshistoria
  • Kontaktperson: Kihlberg, Jakob
  • Disputation


The first congresses that claimed to be “international” without involving state representatives took place in the middle of the nineteenth century. In this dissertation these public meetings, with participants from many countries in Europe and America, are described as mediated events related to a specific imaginary of the public sphere. Three cases are studied in detail: two antislavery conventions that were held in London in the 1840s, a series of peace congresses that took place in Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt and London between 1848 and 1851, and four international philanthropic congresses organised in the same cities during the second half of the 1850s and in the first years of the 1860s.

The aim of the dissertation is to show that these meetings were arranged as a new form of international actors, and how different media were used to accomplish this. These early international meetings were part of a dynamic culture of public speaking in Europe in the nineteenth century, but they were also closely connected to the development of new forms of printed media. In the dissertation the meetings are analysed as multimedia events, as constellations of speech, image and text. The focus is not primarily on how the meetings transmitted information, but rather on the means by which they created legitimacy, participation and identification.

I demonstrate that the logic of the meetings was closely tied to what can be called the mobilisation of reform elites, in the sense that the organisers both presented support from such collectives, and at the same time tried to activate audiences and get them to identify as belonging to these groups. In this respect the investigation relies on a discussion of mediated publics and political representation, notably the theory of representative claims developed by the political theorist Michael Saward. As a general conclusion, I argue that this way of mobilising reform elites was central to the new type of internationality created through these meetings.