Unarmed on the Battlefield: Non-Combatants and the Experience of Combat in Modern War
University of Glamorgan, Cardiff/Pontypridd, April 15 and 16 2010
Keynote Speaker: Professor Keith Jeffery, Queen’s University Belfast
The historiography of warfare in the modern age focuses overwhelmingly on the experiences of the armed protagonists who play a direct, fighting role in combat. Yet throughout the early-modern and modern periods, armies have gone to battle accompanied by a range of non-combatant personnel, who although unarmed have nonetheless played a key battlefield role. From the Thirty Years War to the Second World War, medical officers, stretcher-bearers, chaplains, musicians, and standard-bearers have had the unenviable experience of being defenceless in the intensely violent environment of the battlefield. These men and women have occupied an unusual position in that they were able to bear witness to killing in which they themselves did not take part. Until well into the nineteenth century, European armies were also often accompanied by camp-followers, including soldiers’ wives and children, prostitutes, craftsmen and traders who, although they usually witnessed combat from a distance, were able to view the human impact of modern warfare in the immediate aftermath of battle. From the Crimean War onwards, moreover, a new category of professional witnesses emerged driven by the needs of the media. War correspondents, war artists, and photographers increasingly attempted to capture the graphic reality of war for civilians on the home-fronts, again often at the risk of their own lives. This two-day conference will examine the experiences of these non-combatant witnesses of combat from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries and consider the extent to which they informed contemporaries’ understanding of violence and war.
The conference, which is funded by the University of Glamorgan in association with the Centre for War Studies (Trinity College, Dublin), will be co-convened by Dr Jane Finucane (Glamorgan) and Dr Edward Madigan (TCD). 400 word abstracts should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 30 2009. It is anticipated that a selection of papers will be published.
Dr Edward Madigan,
Centre for War Studies,
Trinity College Dublin,
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