Authors: Benjamin Thorpe*, University of Nottingham
Topics: Historical Geography, Political Geography, Europe
Keywords: Europe, Pan-Europe, pan-movements, geopolitics, Coudenhove-Kalergi
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Governors Square 17, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
No pan-movement was so closely associated with its leader as the Pan-European movement was with Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, who in 1923 founded and for the rest of his life presided over the Pan-European Union. In some ways, therefore, its pan-ness couldn’t be easier to explain: it was ‘pan-’ because that was the name that one man, Coudenhove-Kalergi, consciously chose and consistently promoted. Yet the question of why he chose to work within the geopolitical genre of pan-movements is more open-ended, particularly given that it was by 1923 a genre freighted with an extraordinary amount of ideological baggage. He had himself explained WWI as an inevitable clash between the expansionist forces of Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism. This paper examines the decision to adopt the 'pan-' moniker, and answers by way of two vignettes that expand upon the two influences that Coudenhove-Kalergi openly acknowledged. First, the Pan-American movement, particularly filtered through the lens of the Austrian pacifist Alfred Fried’s enthusiastic account of its influence. And second, the Islamic scholar Abdullah Al-Mamun Suhrawardy, who had stayed a half-year at Coudenhove-Kalergi’s family estate deep in the Bohemian countryside before moving to London, where he in 1903 founded and until 1907 presided over the Pan-Islamic Society. These acknowledged forebears each influenced Coudenhove-Kalergi in quite different ways, and together tell us a great deal about the nature of pan-movements as a geopolitical genre in the first decades of the twentieth century.