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House of Anansi Press

The Return of History

Conflict, Migration, and Geopolitics in the Twenty-First Century CBC Massey Lectures

Written by Jennifer Welsh

Published September 17, 2016 | ISBN 9781487001308

Cover of The Return of History

Regular price $24.95 CAD

360 pages | 5.25 in × 8 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

The Return of History

Conflict, Migration, and Geopolitics in the Twenty-First Century

CBC Massey Lectures

Jennifer Welsh

In the 2016 CBC Massey Lectures, former Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General and international relations specialist Jennifer Welsh delivers a timely, intelligent, and fascinating analysis of twenty-first-century geopolitics.

In 1989, as the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Cold War dissipated, the American political commentator Francis Fukuyama wrote a famous essay, entitled “The End of History,” which argued that the demise of confrontation between Communism and capitalism, and the expansion of Western liberal democracy, signalled the endpoint of humanity’s sociocultural and political evolution, and the path toward a more peaceful world. But a quarter of a century after Fukuyama’s bold prediction, history has returned: arbitrary executions, attempts to annihilate ethnic and religious minorities, the starvation of besieged populations, invasion and annexation of territory, and the mass movement of refugees and displaced persons. It has also witnessed cracks and cleavages within Western liberal democracies as a result of deepening economic inequality.

The Return of History argues that our own liberal democratic society was not inevitable, but that we must all, as individual citizens, take a more active role in its preservation and growth.

About the Author

Jennifer Welsh

JENNIFER WELSH is Professor and Chair in International Relations at the European University Institute in Florence (Italy) and a Fellow of Somerville College, University of Oxford. From 2013 until 2016, she was the Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary General on the Responsibility to Protect. She co-founded the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, and has taught international relations at the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the Central European University (Prague). Welsh is the author, co-author, and editor of several books and articles on international relations, the changing character of war, and Canadian foreign policy. She was born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, and is of Metis descent. She now lives in Italy, with her husband and two children.

Awards and Praise


“Insightful, frighteningly timely, and highly accessible… [Welsh] skillfully answers realpolitik questions with a seamless, finely honed argument deserving of broad readership and study.” — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Welsh’s unusual perspective serves her well and distinguishes this book from other return-of-history jeremiads. Not only is she exceptionally fluent in the debates and histories of political science, but she has a unique understanding of the actual workings and breaking points of the formal international order and its failings.” — Globe and Mail

“Welsh mounts a forceful moral argument.” — Maclean’s

“Welsh offers an engaging and thought-provoking argument.” — National Post

“Sound, humane and useful.” — Winnipeg Free Press