From the fields of Gettysburg to the beaches of Normandy, the participation and presence of former soldiers has been an integral part of the memorial culture of many conflicts. As survivors of war, veterans are often portrayed a group imbued with a unique knowledge whose experiences should not be forgotten. Yet while public commemorations have sought to establish consensus about the meaning of the past, veterans’ memories have also been a source of conflict and contestation, engaged in struggles over rights, recognition, and the authority to remember the past and speak for the future.
In a recent article in War & History, Grace Huxford et al. note that the historically unprecedented number of veterans across the world during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has ensured not just that veterans ‘occupy a significant place in modern history but that they are also a vital lens through which to analyse the changing relationship between war and society’. Veterans, however, are no modern phenomenon—estimates suggest that a larger proportion of the English population fought in the Civil Wars of the mid-seventeenth century than in World War One. Moreover, though veteran studies has become a rich field of interdisciplinary enquiry, studies tend to be embedded in their own geographic and historical contexts: the transtemporal and transnational study of veterans remains in its infancy.
This conference seeks to bring together scholars from across time and space to explore the experience of veterans, and particularly the politics of veteran memory and commemoration, from a global, comparative perspective. We hope to publish the resulting papers in an edited collection that will approach veteran memory from a range of different disciplinary, temporal, and geographic perspective.
Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers (presented in-person or remotely) that discuss any aspect of veteran politics and memory, from the ancient world to the present. Complete panel proposals are also very welcome (panels/papers which seek to explore different conflicts/countries/periods are especially encouraged). Possible themes include, but are by no means limited to:
- Commemoration and memory
- Veteran social movements and associations
- Veteran cultural contributions (documentary evidence, art, etc.)
- Political power of veterans
- Veteran trauma, health and emotions
- Veteran protest and dissent
- (Inter)national veteran networks
- Monuments, statues, and re-enactments
- Travel and battlefield tourism
- Museums and heritage
This conference will blend physical and virtual presentations, both to accommodate scholars from around the world who are unable to attend in person and to provide a safe conference environment with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Please submit paper abstracts (max. 300 words) and brief bio(s) to both firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by 29 November 2020. Participants will be notified of decisions by the end of December 2020.