The term ‘internationalism’ was widely used in the early twentieth century, albeit in a somewhat diffuse manner: it could refer to an outlook, a movement or a process. The introduction addresses such terminological issues and considers the existing literature on internationalism and transnational exchanges. The chapter examines the extent to which the period between 1880 and 1930 can be described as an ‘age of internationalism’ – a period characterised by a plethora of campaigns and congresses with international features. It draws attention to the particular role of small states in this period. Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries all hosted a variety of international meetings and movements. Belgium hence provides a fitting case to study transnational processes in their national context. Accordingly, the final section introduces the specific Belgian settings of internationalism, including the political currents and social milieus to which it was connected.
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