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Dr. Bastiaan Bouwman

Bastiaan Bouwman

Freie Universität Berlin

Alumni, Postdoctoral Fellow October 2020 to October 2021

Bastiaan is a historian of human rights, humanitarianism, and migration in the twentieth century. He received his PhD in International History from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2019. He has been awarded fellowships by Princeton University, the Institute of European History in Mainz, and the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC. He also served as managing editor at Cold War History journal. Bastiaan is working on a monograph, From Liberalism to Liberation: The World Council of Churches and Human Rights. At SCRIPTS, he is developing his second project, on the origins of the international refugee regime.

Resarch Interests

  • Human Rights
  • Refugees
  • Humanitarianism
  • The global Cold War
  • Decolonization
  • Christian internationalism
  • Non-Governmental Organizations

Current Research Projects at SCRIPTS

Bastiaan’s project investigates the role of Christian humanitarianism in the response to the crisis of displacement at the end of the Second World War and the ensuing formation of the international refugee regime in 1951. The literature on this subject has unduly neglected the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which were among the most important humanitarian actors at the time, and which provide a window into the central paradox of the 1951 regime: while on the face of it the establishment of the regime seemed a victory for universal, liberal, and cosmopolitan principles, in many ways it represented a consolidation of Western nation-states, national sovereignty, and international restraints on mobility. Going beyond signaling these NGOs’ importance to the historical relationship between religion and humanitarianism, the project shows how their work reflected and impacted on the major political questions at stake at the time.

Journal Articles

  • Bouwman, B 2018, ‘From Religious Freedom to Social Justice: The Human Rights Engagement of the Ecumenical Movement from the 1940s to the 1970s’, Journal of Global History, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 252-273.
  • Bouwman, B 2017, ‘Outraged, Yet Moderate and Impartial: The Rise of Amnesty International in the Netherlands, 1961-1980’, Low Countries Historical Review, vol. 132, no. 4, pp. 53-74.


Book Chapters

  • Bouwman, B 2018, ‘1948 – De Wereldraad van Kerken en dekolonisatie’ [1948 – The World Council of Churches and Decolonization], in Lex Heerma van Voss, et al. (eds.), Wereldgeschiedenis van Nederland [World History of the Netherlands]. Amsterdam: Ambo Anthos, pp. 570-576.
  • Bouwman, B 2015, ‘Uncomfortable Bedfellows: Why Human Rights and Democracy Promotion Are Better Off Separate’, in: Anthony Chase (ed.), Transatlantic Perspectives on Diplomacy and Diversity: Select Essays from the 2014 Diplomacy and Diversity Fellowship. New York: Humanity in Action Press, 2015, pp. 97-115.
  • Van der Maar, R, and Bouwman, B (trans.) 2012, ‘The Netherlands, the Missile Crisis, and Cuban-Dutch Relations, 1962-1964: Documents from the Dutch Archives’, in: James G. Hershberg and Christian F. Ostermann (eds.), The Global Cuban Missile Crisis at 50: New Evidence from Beyond the Iron, Bamboo, and Sugarcane Curtains, and Beyond. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, pp. 674-707.


Other Publications