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Conflict and Society

The Conflict and Society Research Group brings together expertise in the history and literary representation of conflict from 1500 to the modern day. The group connects the research interests of eighteen Northumbria humanities scholars and a large group of postgraduate students making for a lively, and growing, research community.

Our research examines ‘conflict’ in its broadest sense, spanning not only international warfare but also revolutions and political, religious and civil unrest. Members are also actively engaged in understanding the many ways in which the past informs the present.

Key themes and topics include:

  • nationalism and loyalism
  • civilian experiences of conflict
  • prisoners of war
  • race, gender and religious identities
  • peace movements and anti-war protest
  • refugees and exiles during wartime
  • cultural exchange and conflict
  • propaganda, journalism and censorship
  • literary and cultural representation of conflict
  • memory and memorialisation
  • genocide and the Holocaust

In recent years, members of our group have published major books on masculinity and warfare, the Anglo-Scottish War of 1522–1524, the Tudor occupation of Boulogne, the history of the Holocaust, and the cultural history of Ulster Protestantism. Our work has also appeared in major international journals, such as Past & Present, the English Historical Review, Literature & History, and the Journal of British Studies.

Group members have been leading various externally funded projects. These include several ventures dealing with the First World War and its aftermath: the AHRC-funded centenary projects ‘Dominion Geordies in World War One’ (2016–2017) and ‘British Ex-Service Students and the Rebuilding of Europe, 1918–1926’ (2017–2018 ), the later of which was conducted in partnership with the National Union of Students and Workers’ Educational Association. Another AHRC-funded collaborative project, ‘Ephemera and writing about war in Britain, 1914 to the present’ (2021–2024) explores links between ephemera, storytelling and commemoration regarding the First World War, while Dr Samraghni Bonnerjee’s Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship ‘Imperial Politics and Medical Care: 1915-1925’ (2021–2024) scrutinises the healthcare provisions for soldiers and veterans recruited from the British colonies. Moreover, in 2019/2020, Dr James McConnel was the recipient of a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship for his project 'The Fighting Race? Contested Images of Irish Soldiers in the First World War'. In 2022/2023, Dr Linsey Robb launched an AHRC-funded project on British conscientious objectors during the Second World War, while Professor David Gleeson and Dr Damien Shiels started their Civil War Bluejackets project. Further AHRC funding followed in 2023, supporting a project by group member Dr Waitman Beorn, Visualizing Janowska: Creating a Digital Architectural Model of a Nazi Concentration Camp

Moreover, Northumbria historians have organised a series of events on different aspects of conflicts. Recent examples include ‘Wild War One’ (a public symposium on the First World War and the environment) and ‘Objects in and after Conflict’ (a two-day conference organised by the group’s postgraduate members funded by the AHRC and the Royal Historical Society). In November 2019, members of the research group organised an exhibition on Living Legacies of the First World War at the University Gallery.

Please contact the current group convenor, Dr Dominic Williams, if you have any further questions about the group, its research or activities.

Membership

PGR students

  • Paul Davy
  • Struan Kennedy 
  • Lewis Kimberley 
  • Lisa Peatfield 
  • Shaun Pitt 
  • Luke Usher 

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