Anne Schult is a transnational historian of twentieth-century Europe. Her research focuses on the history of migration and the politics of the human sciences across Germany, Britain, France, and their empires.
She is currently at work on her first book manuscript, Counting the Countless: Statistics, Demography, and the Modern Refugee, 1920s-1960s, which explores the impact of the quantitative social sciences on the management of European refugeedom. Drawing on archives in Germany, France, Switzerland, Britain, and the United States, the book argues that international law and the social sciences developed as competing attempts to identify, classify, and control refugees in twentieth-century Europe. Even before lawyers, demographers set out to fill the gap of knowledge surrounding refugees, starting with methodologies that centered on quantification. Pointing towards the constitutive nature of statistics, they used cross-national data sets and outlined refugees as a comprehensive, international category. Their surveys also offered predictions of future displacement and were directly involved in refugee policy as it was enacted. While highlighting quantification as a targeted management device, this investigation of refugee statistics also reveals several surprises: the colonial fantasies involved in resettling European refugees, the allure that numerical control held for jurists, and not least the ideas the displaced themselves brought to the practice of human accounting.
For her research, Prof. Schult has been awarded fellowships from the Fulbright program, the Social Science Research Council, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the German Historical Institute. Her work has appeared in History of European Ideas and the Journal of Global History, and further writing is forthcoming in the Routledge Handbook of the History and Sociology of Ideas. She has also published in more public-facing fora, including Geschichte der Gegenwart and H-Diplo, and is a former editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas Blog.
In addition to her first book, Prof. Schult recently began work on two new projects. The first, provisionally titled Mobile Manpower: Labor, Forced Displacement, and Resettlement in Europe, explores how ideas about the inner workings of the global capitalist economy shaped the category of the refugee in the first half of the twentieth century. Revealing a hidden prehistory to Europe’s postwar guestworker programs, it emphasizes the continent’s international entanglements through foreign labor and blurs the lines between the now often-assumed dichotomy of “political refugees” and “economic migrants.” The second project, a collection of essays under the heading The New Nomads: Itinerant Subjects in Twentieth-Century Europe, charts the rhetorical history of nomadism across a variety of political projects in Western Europe between the 1920s and the 1970s.