Conference ‘The First World War and the End of Neutrality’
6 March 2009, Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Call for Papers
In his seminal “The Decline of Neutrality”, first published in 1950, Nils Ørvik stated that the First World War spelled the beginning of the end for neutrality as a political concept. During this Great War, both belligerent blocs expected the neutrals to realign their neutrality in their favour. Some neutrals, such as the Scandinavian countries and Switzerland, engaged in a daring balancing act between the economic demands placed on them by the Germans and British. Others, such as Belgium, could not maintain their neutrality (or even their sovereignty) in the face of military demands placed on them by the Central Powers or the Allies. Moreover, in a “total war” cast in terms of a battle between good and evil, the moral high ground was no longer theirs; instead, they were increasingly seen as cowards, war-profiteers or enemy collaborators. Finally, the legal framework that had been established during the nineteenth century to safeguard neutral rights against belligerent action in war was slowly, but decisively, demolished in wartime.
The small neutrals’ “war history” is most often reduced as one of steadily encroaching demands on their sovereignty, which they were powerless to resist. However, the decline (or rather transformation) of neutrality proved to be an uneven process, and neutrals managed to change both the concept and the practice of neutrality during the First World War in order to survive (relatively) unscathed. Moreover, during the course of four and a half years of war, the small European neutrals embarked on divergent paths in their quest to maintain their national independence, economy and neutrality.
During a conference to be held at Amsterdam, the Netherlands on March 6th, 2009, we aim to explore the topic of neutrality during the First World War, focussing on changing concepts and practices in different neutral countries. Our main themes will be:
• In what way and in what direction did neutrality change during the First World War?
• How did changes in the concept of neutrality impact on a “neutral” society?
• How and why did these changing concepts influence “neutral” countries in the economic, military, political and cultural sphere?
The conference will be jointly organized by dr. M. de Keizer and dr. I. Tames (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation), dr. J.P. den Hertog (BKVGE, Freie Universität Berlin) and S. Kruizinga, M.A. (University of Amsterdam), in cooperation with the Netherlands Defence Academy. Pierre Purseigle (University of Birmingham) and Neville Wylie (University of Nottingham) will be our keynote speakers.
Additionally, we hope that this conference will also serve as a springboard for establishing a network of neutrality specialists from different countries and scholarly disciplines.
We invite scholars to contribute to this conference. Please send a one page proposal, detailing the outline of an article which deals with these themes, plus a short c.v. of the author (or authors) to the organizers before May 31st, 2008 to the following address: email@example.com. The organizing committee will select the most promising papers on their scholarly merits. The selected authors will be invited to give a lecture at Amsterdam, and all costs relating to travel to and stay in Amsterdam will be reimbursed. Naturally, we invite all those interested in this subject to attend and participate in discussions as well. If you register with us before December 15th, 2008, we guarantee a stay at a hotel near the conference site for a discount price of 120 euros, which includes the 30 euros attendance fee for the conference itself.
A collection of the papers will be published in the autumn of 2009 by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD). For more details, see (http://www.niod.nl/nl/conferentieWOI.asp) or contact Samuël Kruizinga at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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