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Close Reading: Giuliana Chamedes on her new book, "A Transnational Crusade: The Vatican Battle Against Liberalism and Communism since World War I"

News from Jun 09, 2020

On Monday we were thrilled to be joined by Giuliana Chamedes (University of Wisconsin, Madison) for our second Close Reading session. As a group, we had a lively discussion on new histories of internationalism, mass campaigning, and the role of religion in twentieth-century global orders.

The subject of the close reading were the introduction and a chapter of Giuliana’s recently published book: A Transnational Crusade: The Vatican Battle Against Liberalism and Communism since World War I (Harvard University Press, 2019). The book examines the way in which, after World War I, the central government of the Roman Catholic Church took a bold new approach to combatting the forces it saw as existential threats. Through treaty diplomacy and cultural internationalism, it sought to reassert the Vatican’s place on the European continent and combat the challenge posed by rival ideological forces. Papal officials “went transnational,” as they opposed Woodrow Wilson’s international liberal agenda and forged a Catholic International, which was intended to counter the Communist International through grassroots organizations and new media outlets. The book explores the papacy’s actions between 1917 and 1965, and – grounding itself in a range of newly available archival sources – it probes the relative success enjoyed by the papacy in its decades-long crusade to combat liberalism and communism.

It was a pleasure to be joined by Giuliana, albeit virtually, and to gather insights and inspiration for our own research. As borders close and physical connections are difficult, it is more important than ever to maintain international academic co-operation. Next month, we will be joined by Stephen Legg (University of Nottingham) to discuss his upcoming work Making India in 1930s London: The Round Table Conference and Imperial Internationalism.

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