The military occupation of maritime and coastal spaces in Europe from the early modern period to the present
16-18 March 2011
Ecole militaire (Paris CESM) et Château de Vincennes (SHD)
Coordination: Jean de Préneuf – University Charles de Gaulle Lille 3
The French Agence Nationale de la Recherche has been funding since 2007, in the context of its thematic programme on Conflict(s), War and Violence, a research project on Military occupations in Europe since the early modern period, run by the Maison Européenne des Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société – Lille-Nord-de-France (MESHS) and the Institut de Recherches Historiques du Septentrion (IRHiS), both based at the University Charles-de-Gaulle-Lille 3 (www.occupations-militaires-europe.com). This two and a half day conference, organized in partnership with the Service Historique de la Défense and the Center for European Security at the University of Salford (Manchester) with the support of the Centre d’enseignement supérieur de la Marine (CESM) and the sponsorship of the Groupement d’intérêt scientifique-Histoire maritime, aims at furthering reflection on military occupation by also considering the maritime and coastal areas of the European peninsula and measuring the impact of this environment on processes of military occupations.
As a preliminary, it is useful to give a more precise idea of what is understood by "occupying" such territories. This is the more so as such a term is alien to maritime vocabulary. To this end a quick reminder of the characteristics and functions of the maritime element seems necessary. The physical characteristics of this type of area influence how they are used, as the geography and the exploitation of the sea determine together the modalities of their military occupation. The exploitation of maritime area bears the stamp of vastness and of its hostility, of its homogeneity and its fluidity. At sea, the concepts of border, of constant front, or of position to conquer and hold, have no meaning, or at least not the same as they have on land. At sea, there is no obstacle to rely on - except islands, straits or coast - and all the coastlines are not equal, both from a military and economic point of view. The sea is both a line of communication which allows for the circulation of wealth and the projection of power, a source of food, either directly through fishing or indirectly through trade, and finally a barrier or rampart. "Occupying the sea" only means something in connection with the land, where the populations live, and where economic activities are taking place and were the powers are based.
Studying the occupation of maritime areas is therefore only of interest if we pay attention to the landing-places. The useful maritime area that is likely to be occupied is firstly that of the brown water, near the coastline, and the enemy or conquered coasts, especially close to ports and straits, for it is in such places that are concentrated the flows, logistic and economic activities, where naval infrastructures are located, and when, in summary, the occupation of maritime spaces has the greatest impact. As the coastal and maritime areas are an interface that must be controlled, their occupation is to be considered in their double dimension: on the one hand, the action of a maritime power on the territory of a continental power in order to influence its economy and its operational freedom, and on the other, the control of the waters of an occupied country to subjugate it and prohibit the enemy, and sometimes even neutrals, from accessing it from the sea.
The physical characteristics of these areas increase the impact of the technological factors and have been at the origin of complex, changing and composite, legal status, which as wavered in time between total freedom of movement and more or less exclusive and concurrent sovereignties of state powers, local authorities or even private actors. Such physical and legal conditions, specific to the maritime element have implied a different relationship to distances, as well as another concept of space-time. Apprehending and making-sense of the experience of such spaces have therefore been determined by a game of representations of those territories, of the communities, which live there and of the powers, which depend on it.
The challenge is therefore less to occupy in a very strict sense the maritime and coastal spaces than to control the usage, which is made of it (preserving one's freedom of action on them, paralysing the enemy by way of blocus or mining for instance.) Thus is why the literature has forged concepts of mastering, controlling and interdiction of the sea, which are nothing but the naval equivalent of the land occupation. This pertinence in the long term of technological and legal factors will suggest trying to evaluate the impact of changes induced by the major technological innovations which have taken place in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries on the principles and modalities of military occupation inherited from the early modern period.
A chronological approach will reveal the continuities and ruptures (especially in the last third of the 18th Century, in the mid-nineteenth century and the first world war), but at the same time a special attention will be paid to the way in which the legal, technical, economic and operational dimensions are intertwined, in a way which is of course inherent to any military occupation, but which is further accentuated by the specifics of the maritime and littoral areas. Such overlap deserves a special attention as it has justified since the early modern period, the decisive contribution of the conditions of war on sea to the definition of the law of war in general. Furthermore, The workshop will build on the approach, the dynamic and the axes that have been developed for 3 years around the research project: the words and concepts of the occupation, the compromises and arrangements facing a situation of occupation, outputs and memories of the military occupations. Furthermore, to fully explore the complex influence of the representation of maritime and littoral spaces in the anticipation, conduct and memory of their occupation, it will also be a matter a building on the approach, dynamics and axis developed in the last three years, by thinking in terms of the following three series of themes : the words, the rules and the concepts of occupation; the initial stages, conduct and management of the occupation by the different actors; as well as the end and memory of occupations.
Paper proposals, written in French or English, must be sent by e-mail to Jonathan Vouters (jonathan.vouters(a)univ-lille3.fr) before 1 June 2010. They must include the title of the proposed paper, a one page abstract describing the approach and the sources used. French and English will be the languages of communication at the conference. The organizers will give an answer in July 2010. The full text of the papers must be sent before 1 February 2011. Travel and accommodation expenses will be met by the organizers.
Executive committee : W. Kaiser (Paris I-Panthéon Sorbonne), P. Louvier (Montpellier III), Jean de Préneuf (Lille III-Service historique de la Défense), M. Motte (ESC St-Cyr Coëtquidan-Paris IV Sorbonne), P. Pourchasse (Université de Bretagne Occidentale-Brest), P. Venier (Salford-Manchester).
Scientific committee : J.-F. Chanet (Lille III), H. Coutau-Bégarie (EPHE-CSEM), E. Grove (Salford-Manchester), A. Lambert (King’s College-Londres), G. Le Bouedec (Université de Bretagne Sud-Lorient), S. Marzagalli (Nice-Sophia Antipolis), N. Rodger (All Souls-Oxford), P. Vial (Service historique de la Défense-Vincennes)
IRHiS - Jonathan Vouters
Domaine Universitaire du Pont de Bois
Rue du Barreau, BP. 60149
59653 VILLENEUVE D'ASCQ Cedex
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