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Imperial Afterlives

Research project led by Dr Anna Ross

International zones 1919-23

The international zones created between 1919 and 1923

The First World War witnessed the dramatic collapse of the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires, ushering in a new international order that was formalised in the Treaty of Versailles and its associated agreements up to 1923. This AHRC research project examines this period of transition from several angles.

At its heart, Dr Anna Ross is examining the internationalisation of territory that took place between 1919 and 1923. Internationalisation saw the League of Nations assume direct oversight of territory in the German/French borderlands (Saar Basin) and the German/Polish borderlands (Free City of Danzig). It also saw ‘condominiums’ of states conversant with League initiatives exercise administrative powers outside of Europe, most famously in the International City of Tangier in Morocco. Ross explores the intersection in this period between shifting international law and sovereignty, and lived experiences.

International Zone of Tangier

Advertising for the International Zone of Tangier

In addition to this work, Ross and Dr Jean-Michel Johnston (University of Cambridge) are exploring the reworking of imperial infrastructures in the German empire more broadly, given that the internationalisation of territory overwhelmingly took place in former German empire. They are interested in a whole range of issues from railroads to currencies.

Lastly, Ross and Johnston have teamed up with a network of colleagues from around the world to bring their work into a comparative frame, exploring imperial afterlives across all four of the empires that collapsed in this period.

You can see details of the recent 2-part conference they hosted on this theme in 2022 here.

Funding logos AHRC Warwick IAS Warwick Connecting Cultures