The Invention of International Bureaucracy

  • The League of Nations and the Creation of International Public Administration, c. 1920-1960


Over the last 100 years, the international political scene has become increasingly organized. More than 5000 international organisations now regulate global and regional political, economic and technical affairs. As a consequence international bureaucracy, i.e. international executive bodies that function autonomously from nation states and deal with international affairs, has become an important and increasingly contested feature of world politics.

Even so, the history of these non-elected executive bodies is underresearched. This project aims to shine a light on the roots of international bureaucracy and its particular institutional and socio-cultural characteristics by exploring the principles, practices and formative effects of the League of Nations Secretariat.  With theoretical inspiration from political sociology and based on extensive multiarchival research, the project will explore the institutional norms and practices of the League Secretariat and investigate its exchanges and connections with national diplomatic and bureaucratic structures, internationalist networks and institutions and subsequent international bureaucracies of the 20th century. 


2017.02.16 | Arts

The untold story of Erik Colban and the Greco-Turkish population Exchange

Mads Drange (master student - University of Oslo)

2017.01.06 | Arts

A conference to remember

Haakon A. Ikonomou (postdoc - Aarhus University) - with Conference Summary by Professor Giles Scott-Smith (Leiden University)

2016.12.09 | Arts

Connecting the micro and macro of the League Secretariat

Blog entry by Torsten Kahlert (postdoc - Aarhus University)

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Latest News and Events

2016.09.29 | Events

New Diplomatic History Conference

The Invention of International Bureaucracy is co-hosting the second New Diplomatic History Conference.

2016.09.28 | Events

Presentation of the 'The Invention of International Bureaucracy' project

Karen Gram-Skjoldager will be presenting the ideas and aims behind 'The Invention of International Bureaucracy' project in Stakladen, Aarhus University on 12 October 2016. The event is organized by The Danish Council for Independent Research in cooperation with Folkeuniversitetet/Danish University Extension, Aarhus. The event is open to…

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Director of Research

Karen Gram-Skjoldager

Associate professor

Part of

  • The Research programme at the Department of History and Classical Studies


The project is funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research Sapere Aude.