The Violence of War: Experiences and Images of Conflict

Thursday 19 and Friday 20 June 2014
University College London

Although historians dealing with war will inevitably be called to concentrate their attention on violence, often the understanding of how violence itself was perceived, understood, imagined and experienced by combatants and civilians is neglected. Much still needs to be said about how war was shaped by and, in turn, influenced, modern perceptions of violence. Considering war, as John Keegan has put it, first and foremost as ‘a cultural act’, this conference calls attention to the ways in which warfare violence was imagined and understood during the modern era, focusing on the distance between expectations and experiences of war; on the distance between – or coincidence of – ‘imagined’ and the ‘real’ wars. The period considered ranges from the Crimean War to the Second World War and its aftermath.

Topics relevant to this conference may include, but are by no means limited to, the following issues:

1. How have different disciplines examined and explained acts of violence?
2. Is it possible to identify specific cultures of violence in the pre-war era as well as during the war itself?
3. What was the impact of situational and intentional factors on killing and brutalisation?
4. To discuss how we can explain atrocities – as actions motivated by belief, as an unexpectedly horrifying consequence of obeying orders or as matter-of-fact acts of killing.
5. To compare the traumatising effect of violence with pleasure, excitement or gratification in carrying out acts of violence.

We welcome submissions from cultural, social, military, intellectual and other historians and from scholars from neighbouring disciplines (history of art, literary criticism, international relations, war studies, historical sociology, political science and philosophy, amongst others). We encourage a variety of methodological approaches and we particularly welcome the submission of theoretical papers, particularly from sociologists, philosophers, political scientists and anthropologists who have an interest in history.

If you are interested in presenting a 15 minute paper, please send a title, an abstract of no more than 400 words and a short CV to Dr. Matthew D’Auria (m.d’auria@ucl.ac.uk)

Deadline for submission is Friday 31 January 2014.

We plan to publish an edited volume based on a selection of the papers presented at the conference. Please indicate therefore whether you would be interested in further developing your paper for publication after the event.

Limited funding is available. However, we ask participants to apply for funding from their own institutions in the first instance. No inscription fee will have to be paid for this conference.


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