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International Conference: Civilians and Warfare in World History

International Conference: Civilians and Warfare in World History
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Contact Information 
Dr. Nicola Foote
Associate professor of History, FGCU
phone: 239-590-7368 

Dr. Nadya Popov-Reynolds
Assistant professor of History, University of West Georgia
phone: 678-839-5370

About the Conference


This conference examines the experiences of civilians in warfare in broad comparative chronological, disciplinary and regional focus. Studies of war have conventionally focused on soldiers and armies – on battle, and on those most visibly seen to be doing the “fighting.” However, this emphasis has begun to shift in recent years. In the discipline of history, the “new military history” has prompted deeper engagement with the broader social meaning of war.

Meanwhile, the blurred line between combatants and non-combatants in many recent military conflicts has prompted the resurgence of philosophical and political questions about the meaning, in wartime, of the categories of civilians and soldiers, forcing scholars to look beyond the action and agency of the most prominent participants in warfare. This conference aims to bring together the best new work on civilians and non-combatants within the humanities and social sciences in a comprehensive range of geographical areas and time periods.

Panels will explore the shifting and ambiguous distinctions between civilians and soldiers in various combat situations; the role of non-combatants within the armed forces; civilian life during wartime; attacks on civilians and their consequences; and the shifts in social and political structures and in identity formation that emerge from civilian experiences of war.

Questions confronted will include:

What have been the different religious and philosophical justifications for the boundaries between civilians and soldiers, and how have these changed over time? What has been the division between combatant and non-combatant within institutional militaries? Who is a combatant – how do we conceptualize standard-bearers, musicians and drone operatives? What categories of civilians have historically engaged in combat? What contributions have they made? Why do attacks on civilians occur? How have changing military technologies and cultures affected civilian’s experiences of war?

What roles have women played in war, and with what consequences? In what ways has gender segregation within combat impacted and wider gender norms and hierarchies? To what extent have children been participants in war, and what reverberations have their experiences had for cultural understandings of childhood? What has been the relationship between disability and age and civilian status? How have animals been viewed within warfare, and can they be classified as civilians? What is the relationship between national and ethnic identities and civilian experiences of warfare? What cultural and political changes are provoked by civilian involvement in war?

By shifting the focus away from men in uniform, we hope this conference contributes to a deeper understanding of the complexities of war and its consequences.

Funding and Support Provided by the following FGCU institutions: Amnesty International; College of Arts and Sciences; Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Honors Program; International Students Club; Office of Research and Sponsored Programs; Phi Alpha Theta; Politics, Culture and History Club; Student Government; Students Who Served