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CFP: The People's Wars? The Second World War in Socio-Political Perspective

Submission deadline: January 31, 2018

Conference date(s):
June 14, 2018 - June 15, 2018

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Conference Venue:

King's College London
London, United Kingdom

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Keynotes: Prof. Nicholas Stargardt (Oxford) and Dr. Daniel Todman (Queen Mary)


For the major Allied powers, the Second World War has long been seen as a ‘good’ war. This has led to a mythologised version of the conflict developing in the public consciousness. The war is often remembered as a ‘Finest Hour’, when ‘both the “ordinary people” and the privileged put aside their everyday involvements and individual concerns, joined hands, and came to the nation’s defence’. The narrative of a ‘good’ war has much less relevance for the Axis powers, for those countries whose experience of the war was defined by occupation and repression and for the many small nations that found themselves caught in the middle. For these countries, the challenge of coming to terms with war crimes, collaboration and subjugation split the nation at the time, and continues to do so today.

Indeed, it is easy to forget how deeply divided (socially, economically and ethnically) belligerent nations were in the era of the Second World War and the manner in which the shadow of the First World War and the Depression shaped the terms of the interaction between the state and its citizens. Even in those countries where the trials of the period were better managed, there was often a distinct disconnect between rhetoric and reality; the war was a contested and deeply divisive experience, a far cry in many ways from a ‘People’s War’.

The conference aims to explore these dynamics and the changes in perspective that emerge from a socio-political rather than a military-organisational approach to studying the Second World War. With that aim in mind, we invite paper proposals on themes including, but not limited to:

Legitimacy - Mobilisation - Political and social change - Alliance and coalition warfare - Grand strategy - Propaganda and diplomacy - Neutrality and belligerence - Intelligence - Empire/Imperialism - Writing the history of the Second World War - Gender - Elites/Minorities - Operations - Global war - Experiencing war - Forgotten fronts – Resistance/Collaboration

Paper proposals should include an abstract of no more than 300 words and a one-page CV. Panel proposals for groups of three to four speakers are also welcomed; they should, in addition to individual paper abstracts and CVs, include a brief description of the panel theme (no more than 500 words). The deadline for proposal submissions is 31 January 2018. Submissions, queries and expression of interest to attend should be addressed to richard.hammond@kcl.ac.uk.

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