Please join us online to discuss Dr Margot Tudor’s new book Blue Helmet Bureaucrats: United Nations Peacekeeping and the Reinvention of Colonialism, 1945-1971 (Cambridge University Press, 2023) on the colonial continuities of UN peacekeeping operations in the field during decolonisation. She will introduce the key arguments from the book and provide advice on turning your thesis into a book. Her talk will be followed by a Q&A session.
We are also pleased to have Dr David Curran (Coventry), Co-convener of the Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding Working Group, to introduce Margot and chair the Q&A.
About the book
This history of colonial legacies in UN peacekeeping operations from 1945-1971 reveals how United Nations peacekeeping staff reconfigured the functions of global governance and sites of diplomatic power in the post-war world. Despite peacekeeping operations being criticised for their colonial underpinnings, our understanding of the ways in which colonial actors and ideas influenced peacekeeping practices on the ground has been limited and imprecise. In this multi-archival history, Margot Tudor investigates the UN’s formative armed missions and uncovers the officials that orchestrated a reinvention of colonial-era hierarchies for Global South populations on the front lines of post-colonial statehood. She demonstrates how these officials exploited their field-based access to perpetuate racial prejudices, plot political interference, and foster protracted inter-communal divisions in post-colonial conflict contexts. Bringing together histories of humanitarianism, decolonisation, and the Cold War, Blue Helmet Bureaucrats sheds new light on the mechanisms through which sovereignty was negotiated and re-negotiated after
From the Sinai to Gaza, from the Congo to West Papua, Margot Tudor’s Blue Helmet Bureaucrats exposes how United Nations peacekeepers inherited the practices and mindsets of colonial administration. Tudor’s crisp account of the reality of liberal internationalism is revelatory for students of the United Nations and decolonization.
– Timothy Nunan, University of Regensburg
Margot Tudor is among the brightest of a new generation of historians illuminating a lost international past – in Blue Helmet Bureaucrats she sets her clear eyed vision on the problematic politics of UN peacekeeping in the post-Second World War. This thick history sets the complex truth above all else; we see the legacies of colonialism, the limits of good intentions, and the real humans involved.
– Glenda Sluga, European University Institute
Margot Tudor’s account of the early years of UN peacekeeping reveals the power of mid-level UN intermediaries to limit the sovereignty of smaller postcolonial states, thus ensuring their alliance with a liberal internationalist order. Blue Helmet Bureaucrats provides a meticulously researched historical reckoning with the imperial origins of liberal internationalism.
– Meredith Terretta, University of Ottawa
About the author
Margot Tudor is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University of Exeter on the Leverhulme-funded project ‘Warnings from the Archive: A Century of British Intervention in the Middle East, 1916-2016’. She won the BISA Michael Nicolson Thesis Prize in 2021 and her article, ‘Gatekeepers to Decolonisation: Recentring the UN Peacekeepers on the Frontline of West Papua’s Re-colonisation, 1962–3’, won the ISA History Section’s Merze Tate Award in 2022 and was shortlisted for the RHS’ Alexander Prize 2022.
Registration will close two hours before the event begins.