Adom Getachew (University of Chicago Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Political Science and the College) will be speaking on
“Fragile Universals: The Making of Racial Hierarchy in the League of Nations.”
In both historiography and popular imagination, Woodrow Wilson and his brand of liberal internationalism remain deeply associated with the rise of self-determination in the twentieth century. Tracing Wilson’s domestic and international reflections on race and self-government alongside those of Jan Smuts, the South African statesman and fellow founder of the League, this talk illustrates how the universal principles of the League of Nations were shot through with commitments to racial hierarchy. It traces the implications of fragile universals through an examination of Liberia and Ethiopia’s racialized and burdened membership in the League.