Susan Pedersen is a historian of Britain and Europe in the twentieth century. She has written on subjects ranging from the evolution of welfare states, to the impact of women’s movements on politics, to the nature of British imperial rule in Kenya and Hong Kong. Her most recent book, Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience (Yale University Press, 2004), recovers the life and work of Eleanor Rathbone, the feminist, social reformer and Member of Parliament who became one of the fiercest critics of appeasement and most effective advocates for refugees from fascism and Nazism in the thirties and forties.
Professor Pedersen is currently writing a book on the role played by the mandates system of the League of Nations in the development of international norms about sovereignty, economic liberalism, labor relations, and human rights. The book recovers the debates, practices and sharp controversies surrounding the League’s international oversight of territories turned over to the imperial powers for administration after the First World War, arguing that these contests helped shape global norms and the global order. Her research for this project, undertaken on four continents and in numerous archives, has been supported by fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and the American Academy in Berlin. Under the provisional title, But Who Will Guard the Guardians? The League of Nations, and the Transformation of the Global Order, the book is contracted to Oxford University Press.