"COLLATERAL DAMAGE": CIVILIAN CASUALTIES FROM ANTIQUITY THROUGH THE GULF WARS
Munk Centre for International Studies
University of Toronto
28-29 May 2004
“Collateral damage” is a misunderstood, misrepresented and, all too commonly, manipulated consequence of armed conflict. It is very much part of our contemporary lexicon, regularly invoked by military strategists, politicians, and pundits. As a practice and a discourse, the concept is not a new one. Civilian casualties in warfare have a history stretching back to antiquity. From ancient times to the present day, perceptions of destruction and devastation have shaped public debate about the conduct, cost, and aims of military engagement. “The hard hand of war” has more often than not affected noncombatants both on the battlefield and in the civic realm. This conference seeks to understand collateral damage by historicizing and analyzing the way in which the concept has evolved in speech and policy formulation. We believe this is a timely and significant topic for two major reasons. First, the debates over civilian casualties in recent conflicts often have taken place in a vacuum without the aid of relevant historical and contextualizing information. Second, the topic is compelling precisely because it is deployed as a euphemism – and many people understand that it hides far more than it reveals. The key goal of the conference is to interrogate the history of civilian casualties and the euphemism that obscures the human costs of such strategies.
The conference is free but registration is required. The conference papers will be pre-circulated electronically.
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)