The importance of the Paris Peace Conference and Wilson's influence on international affairs far from the battlefields of Europe cannot be underestimated. Now, for the first time, we can clearly see just how the events played out at Versailles sparked a wave of nationalism that is still resonating globally today.
Table of Contents I. Self-Determination for Whom? President Wilson Arrives in Cairo V. Laying India's Ailments before Dr. Wilson VI. The Revolution in Egypt IX. From Paris to Amritsar X. Empty Chairs at Versailles XI. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Textbooks. Read an excerpt of this book!
Add to Wishlist. USD As Manela describes, the hopes that Wilson raised, and quickly dashed, by his failure to endorse the freedom of the colonized still ended up gaving vital momentum to independence movements across the world. The revolutionaries inspired by Wilson were popular, resolutely liberal and genuinely enthralled by the seeming promise of America.
Had Wilson seized the moment and acted differently, we may well be living in a much different world today, without the Chinese Communist Party, North Korea, Egyptian Arab Nationalism or Islamism and with a still-united and pluralistic India. It also goes to show that no group of people is inveterately hostile to liberalism. The rhetoric lauding him as a hero was no lesser than religious figures or Marxist leaders would later enjoy. Even hardened revolutionaries like Mao and Nasser invoked his 14 Points as a rebuke to the rapaciousness of later Western leaders.
In fairness, Wilson was never quite the transcendent figure people thought him to be. Had Wilson embraced the full implications of his 14 Points and endorsed the aspirations of the Third World, however, the world would be a very different place today.
This book is rather academic for the most part, though it has some excitement towards the end. This 'Global' history of Wilson's Fourteen Points, and the expectations of self-determination that it aroused, and disappointed, in the Colonial World specifically, Egypt, India, China and Korea is an interesting and insightful read.
The central thesis of the book is that Wilson's pronouncements, and the American propaganda efforts disseminating them worldwide, transformed nationalist aspirations in the Colonial nations, and created a discourse of liberal anti-colonialism at the end of the Gre This 'Global' history of Wilson's Fourteen Points, and the expectations of self-determination that it aroused, and disappointed, in the Colonial World specifically, Egypt, India, China and Korea is an interesting and insightful read.
The central thesis of the book is that Wilson's pronouncements, and the American propaganda efforts disseminating them worldwide, transformed nationalist aspirations in the Colonial nations, and created a discourse of liberal anti-colonialism at the end of the Great War in However, this 'moment' could also be described as one that was never been, as Wilson's proposition was never meant to extend to various colonial territories held by various victorious powers.
So, the expectations were quickly disappointed, and the narrative became one of the world Wilson never made, leaving the space for just what Wilson was made to fear - Bolshevist influence!
The book is a fine read, with lucid arguments, engaging style and tightly structured narratives. This shows the promises of 'Global history' - that new perspectives can open up by looking beyond the closed world of national histories - as well as its problems - that one can overstate the case as easily. In making the case that there was indeed such a moment, the book somewhat ignores the endogenous reasons, so often privileged in national histories, how such transformations came about.
For example, Amritsar massacre, mentioned in passing, became an incident connected to the Moment, but not a transformational event in itself. That both Gandhi and Mao would largely ignore Wilson's role, was mentioned, but it didn't sway the argument. The movements in Korea and Egypt that didn't fit the narrative was marginalised, thereby amplifying Wilson's supposed influence.
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Indeed, this is all acceptable as long as we take this as one of the many possible narratives about anti-colonial nationalism. However, one has to also guard against explaining anti-colonial nationalism purely in Centre-periphery terms, as there existed a network of anti-colonialism that spread across Asia much before Wilson came along. Privileging the Wilsonian narrative as this great global moment when Anti-colonialism came to the fore risks marginalizing the other global moments, Japan's victory over Russia in , Mustafa Kemal's ascension in Turkey, etc, which had great influence across Asia.
Feb 24, J. Hushour rated it it was amazing. A seminal classic in international, comparative history. Simply, the 'Wilsonian moment' was when the US president's invocations of democracy, self-determination, and human rights became the clarion call of local movements against the old imperial order. Manela sounds like manila looks at Egypt, China, Korea, and India, all going through simultaneous nationalist uprisings against British and Japanese imperial shenanigans. On the re-read, this is still a strong book but doesn't get as normative A seminal classic in international, comparative history.
On the re-read, this is still a strong book but doesn't get as normative as it could judge!
The Wilsonian Moment and the Origins of the Postcolonial World
Manela barely delves into this, which would have made the work much more fun. Mar 30, Will rated it really liked it Shelves: colonialism , grad-school , world-history. These criticisms have primarily been directed at the inability of the European great powers to reach a stable settlement with Germany, thus paving way for the Second World War two decades later.
In his introduction, Manela notes that the chaos of the World War resulted in two new conceptions of the world emerging, both of which rejected the pre-eminent belief in the power and importance of great empires. These two conceptions were epitomised by Lenin, who wished to radically alter the world system, and American president Woodrow Wilson, who spoke in grandiose terms of a league of nations, in which all peoples of the world would have equality.
The weakness of the fledgling Soviet Union and the power of the victorious United States in the war meant that the Wilsonian ideas were by far the more popular among the peoples of the world in the immediate months following the war.
Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism
The Wilsonian Moment is divided into three parts. The first of these is primarily interested in looking at Wilson himself, at how a racist American politician came to stand for the hopes of the oppressed peoples of the world. This extended lens of analysis allows Manela to argue against prevailing historical opinion, which stated that the President gave little thought to the world outside of Europe.
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Rather, the president had a clear idea of the colonised world, but it was a world which he felt needed the tutoring hand of European rule Wilson supported the US administration of the Philippines, for example. This fascinating chapter helps explain how the Fourteen Points, ideas which were tailored for a Central-Eastern European audience, reached as far afield as East Asia and India. Advanced global communications had proved a boon for the allied war effort, but now had entirely unforeseen consequences.
The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism
In other words, this chapter looks at the adoption of the ideals of self-determination by nationalised who wished to challenge the global legitimacy of Empire, not just win limited autonomy for themselves. Manela wrote in the introduction of the need to walk a fine line between a work which was either too sweeping and shallow or too long and dense. To compromise between the two, he decides to look in depth at the effects of the Wilsonian movement on four national groups- Egyptians, Koreans, Indians and Chinese.
All four of these peoples had long, developed cultural identities and powerful educated elites. These elites saw in Wilson a change to grant their people presence on the international stage, and all had representatives in Paris advocating their case. The final part of the book examines the death of the Wilsonian dream, as it became apparent that self-determination for the victims of European Colonialism was not on the cards of the conference. Wilson comes across as a sympathetic, but weak, figure, whose earlier promises no longer held the same power which they once had. The failure of his to sell the vision of the League of Nations to the American people and congress is played out simultaneously to a wave of revolutions which sweeps though Korea, Egypt, China and India.
By comparing these revolutions side by side, Manela shows how all were linked through the discourse they used and the ideals which they shared- as well as the anger that these ideas had not been realised. Overall, I regard The Wilsonian Moment as a strong example of a work of world history. The author skilfully integrates six different settings into an convincing narrative, as characters move from their home nations to the melting pot of the Paris conference.
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The physical act of moving from place to place is not the only global aspect of this study. The aims of the colonised elites were international in scope- the idea of an equal League of Nations was the most inspiring of all the Wilsonian ideals. I would have liked to have seen a greater look at the ordinary peoples of the four nations, but a focus on the elites is understandable both in terms of writing a shorter piece and for their important role as the diffusers of the Wilsonian idea.
View 1 comment. Aug 12, Adam S. Rust rated it really liked it. In Woodrow Wilson became the first sitting president of the United States to set foot on European soil. With his Fourteen Points in hand he hoped to transform the corrupt imperial order that he felt gave rise to the slaughter of World War I. Several months, and an additional cross-ocean trip back and forth later, Woodrow Wilson was a broken man. His vision thwarted by European power politicians both more cunning, and more grounded in concrete political realities, than he was. The Wilsonian Moment by Erez Manela is not about that story.
Instead, it is a story about an idea Wilson co-opted from Marxist leaders, self-determination, and how that idea reached people he never intended to reach, and inspired hopes he never intended to inspire. Manela focuses on the responses of Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, and Korean nationalists to this idea, and how it had consequences of further reach than Wilson, or anyone else could have possibly anticipated.
The book is broken into three parts.