International Politics

, Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 782–802 | Cite as

The expanding overlap of imperial, international, and transnational political activities, 1920s–1930s: a Belgian case study

  • Cyrus SchayeghEmail author
Original Article


In the interwar years Belgium, a second-rank imperial power, feared new threats to its African colonies, most crucially from communists, revisionist Germany and Italy, and the League of Nations. In response, it expanded pro-empire diplomatic action from Europe to the world; increased administrative inter-imperial coordination in Africa; built up political inter-imperial cooperation in Europe, importantly with another second-rank empire, Portugal; and worked with the Brussels-based Institut colonial international, blurring the divide between (interstate) international and (societal) transnational activities. This bundle of activities reflects an increase and diversification of places and institutions relevant for politics beyond the confines of a particular country—for what may be called world politics; and illustrates how in the 1920s–1930s imperial, international, and transnational political activities increasingly interplayed and indeed blended.


Belgium Imperialism Inter-imperial Transnational League of Nations Institut colonial international Africa 



The author gratefully acknowledge his debt to the anonymous reviewer of an early draft of this article, without whose sharp critique this article would have looked very differently indeed.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International History DepartmentThe Graduate InstituteGeneva 1Switzerland

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