Minorities and the First World War (CfP)

African American soldiers
We agree on the premise of this Call for Papers and that's why it makes sense for us to post it and to support the initiative in this way. 


The experience of minorities in the First World War is one of the most significant, yet least developed aspects of the conflict’s history. It is now over twenty years since the major conference on ‘National and Racial Minorities in Total War’ which spurred the highly influential volume: Minorities in Wartime. With the centenary of the First World War fast approaching, it seems a particularly appropriate time to revisit this subject.

Over the preceding decades, there have been massive shifts in the writing of ethnic and minority histories, which have started to excavate areas of convergence as well as departure. At the same time, our understanding of the social and military history of the First World War has expanded massively. No longer is the history of the conflict confined largely to the trenches of the Western Front, it now encompasses everything from non-combatants and the home front through to occupation and the memory of war.

The aim of this two-day conference is to mesh recent developments in the military history of the First World War with those in the field of minority studies. We welcome proposals covering any ethnic or national minority group involved in the conflict. There is no limit to geographical area, though we are aiming to focus primarily on the main belligerent nations.

Potential themes and questions may include: 
- Minorities as both opponents and enthusiastic supporters of the conflict 
- Minorities as prisoners of war 
- Racism, antisemitism and exclusionary politics during the conflict 
- Religious and ritual practices during the First World War 
- The decoration and promotion of soldiers from minority groups 
- Responses to colonial troops and their wartime experience 
- The treatment of minorities in territory occupied during the war 
- Enemy aliens: Internment, repatriation and social hostility 
- The remembrance (and forgetting) of minority combatants

Please send abstracts (max 300 words) and a short biography to: ww1minorities@chester.ac.uk by 31 May 2013.

Speakers include: 
Professor Tony Kushner (University of Southampton) 
Professor Humayun Ansari OBE (Royal Holloway) 
Professor Panikos Panayi (De Montfort University, Leicester) 

1914: War and the Avant-Gardes. An International Conference (CfP)

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska
We'd like today to draw the attention to the Call for Papers reported below. The interdisciplinary conference which has to be organized next December 2013, aims to discuss how visual arts reacted to and suffered from the Word War I, focusing on the single year 1914. This could offer a chance to reconsider this very special field of human production and innovation, both from an intellectual-spritual and a material-economical point of view, and to appreciate so the role played by the avant-gardes of the early century. 

International Conference
1914: War and the Avant-Gardes
Call for Papers 

With its origins in military vocabulary, the metaphor of the « avant-garde » ran through the art world with particular intensity at the beginning of 1914. In both Europe and the United States, contemporary arts tackled modes of conflict and rupture, the leveling of the recent past and the authoritarian conquest of a utopian future. This militant train of thoughtcan be traced in the fine arts, as well as in other forms of visual expression, from photography and cinema to decorative arts, the arts of industry and other image technologies. These practices were as concerned with theoretical and critical discourse as they were with material production. In this context, the phenomenon of internal fragmentation – of groups, trends, inspirations – existed alongside an aim for universalism, driven by the dream of abolishing the boundaries between the arts and, more radically, between different world views. The quest for crossover and interaction between the languages of philosophy, music, dance, visual arts and literature led to the desire to interweave time and place, cultural and religious traditions, and to abolish the hierarchies between different forms of expression. Around the notions of “primitive”, “popular”, “infantile”, as well as “technological”, “rational” and “scientific”, a common psychological and anthropological horizon seemed within reach, to put an end to the fractures between nations, as well as individuals. Yet rivalries continued: national consciousness continued to sharpen in the field of the “avant-garde”, to ensure the mastery of the future. Kandinsky, a Russian living in Germany and exhibiting in France, made abstraction into the intuitive grammar of the language of “humanity”; but, in homage to Matisse or Delaunay, he also denounced the “sensuality” of the French tradition. 

In August 1914, real and immediate violence seized individual destinies and brutally reoriented them: foreigner and enemy, Kandinsky was forced to flee Germany to evade internment; his German friends of theBlauer Reiter-groupjoined the frontline, where August Macke was killed only a few weeks later. In Paris, Guillaume Apollinaire, who was preparing to give a conference in Berlin in January 1915, became the spokesman for a virulent patriotism and immediately signed up to fight. The young Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, who had been living in London since 1910, moved from anti-militarism to a poetry of modernist violence in the circle of Ezra Pound, before dying in the trenches in 1915. Those such as Romain Rolland, Pierre-Jean Jouve, Maurice Loutreuil or, more briefly, André Masson who chose exile in neutral Switzerland or Italy to maintain their pacifist discourse were rare. 

This interdisciplinary conference aims to interrogate the complex relations between the visual arts, in their largest sense, and history, at a moment where the European crisis of conscience crystallized into catastrophe. Restricting itself to strict temporal parameters – between 1st January and 31st December 1914 –it will explore the intellectual and practical circumstances of visual creation during the first six “ordinary” monthsof the year, whilst also seeking to understand as precisely as the possible the nature of the realizations provoked by the start of the war as well as by its first engagements. Works and objects, the orientation of taste and of the market, critical and theoretical discourse will be exploredin order to dissect that which was shattered in western representation between January and December 1914. 


This conferenceisorganizedjointly by the "Centre allemand d'histoire de l'art"/Deutsches Forum fürKunstgeschichte, l’université de Paris Ouest – Nanterre – La Défense and l’Institut universitaire de France. It will take place in Paris on 5th and 6th December 2013, at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art and the Deutsches Forum fürKunstgeschichte. Oral presentations, of twenty-five minutes in length, will be in French and English. They will address visual culture in Europe in its largest sense, within the strict parameters of the year 1914. 

A provisional title and proposal in French or English, of no more than 300 words, should be sent, in one document along with a brief C.V., to Marine Branland colloque.arts1914@hotmail.fr, before 15 February 2013.  

Organized by : 
Annette Becker (Institut universitaire de France, université de Paris Ouest – Nanterre – La Défense)
Andreas Beyer (Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte, Paris)
Itzhak Goldberg (université Jean Monnet – Saint-Etienne)
Godehard Janzing (Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte, Paris)
Rémi Labrusse (université de Paris Ouest – Nanterre – La Défense)

The Great War and the development of mountaineering in the area of Julian Alps. A documentary

Here is a recommentation of a fascinating documentary about the development of mountaineering just before, during and after the Great War in the area of the Julian Alps, between Eastern Italy and Slovenia. The film comes in four languages (Italian, Slovenian, German and the local language of Friuli region) and examines the meeting point (and sometimes also the contrasts) between the alpinist movement's rise and the pivotal ridge represented by the Great War, dwelling on that particular war inside the war represented by battles in the Alps. We mentioned the contrasts between alpine pioneers and the army chain of command because, especially in the Italian army, the strife between the higher ranks and their alpine consultants were strong and harsh. 

The outstanding figures of Vladimiro Dougan, Osvaldo Pesamosca and, above all, Julius Kugy are the main characters of this documentary that gives a new overview on this part of the front also thanks to accurate interviews with experts (historians, alpine guides). The pioneering stage of mountaineering in the Julian Alps bumped against the war's outbreak in 1915, with Italy entering the war, and became basic know-how for all belligerent armies. At the end of the war, all was ready to catapult these Alps in the dangerous grinder of nature and history tourism.

Vie di Pace | Viis di Pâs | Poti miru | Wege des Friedens

DVD length: 38'
Written by Sergio Beltrame and Samantha Faccio
Directed by Samantha Faccio
A production by Videomante and Officina Immagini
Historical consultancy: Davide Tonazzi and Bruno Marcuzzo

Novels of the Great War: "The enormous room" by E. E. Cummings

1922. Two masterpieces not only of English modernism, but also of the world literature of the XX century were released: Ulysses, by James Joyce and The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot. Both works provide a sort of diagnosis of the astonishment and disillusion of a generation which survived the Great War, not its long-lasting effects. But 1922 is the year of publication of a third novel, which equals the two above mentioned works in importance and maybe completes the choir with a ruthless accusation of the true essence of WWI. We are talking about The enormous room, by E. E. Cummings.

Even if he is best known as a poet, Cummings is also the author of this “hybrid novel”, both autobiographical and fictional. The book is in fact based on his personal experience on the Western front, where he served as an ambulance driver in France. Questioned about a friend of him - William Slater Brown, in the book simply “B”, whose pacifistic attitude aroused suspicions - Cummings supported him. Both were therefore arrested in summer 1917 and sent to La Ferté-Macé, where they arrived few days after the commission that had to review also their case had left. Cummings and his friend were stuck till the next meeting of the commission in November. Meanwhile, they lived in an "enormous room" with other detainees, in foreseeable dreadful conditions. Cummings, thanks to the intervention of his father, was finally released and came back home in January 1918. 

The interesting in this novel is not mainly the plot, nor the autobiographical or fictional content. The enormous Room is more a sort of diary, a telling of the day-to-day lives, and above all a description of different people in the camp. Cummings' skill in connecting physical aspect and personality, in revealing the one through the other, makes this novel a manual of portraiture, as testified by the accurate description of the Delectable Mountains, four characters that Cummings and B encountered in the French detention camp.
His portraiture skill is however placed on the background of the WWI. The novel is thus a sort of eye directed towards the Great War from a very special point of view: not that of the soldier at the front, not that of the civil society at home, rather that of the “suspected traitor” behind its home front. It describes somehow the administrative idiocy which affects people’s life, restricts personal freedom and reduces human beings to objects (no matter if useful objects to fight at the front or useless – even dangerous – objects to keep in prison); it reveals how the relation with the governments has changed in the first decades of the 20th century under the pressure of the growing nationalisms. It also discloses the climate of suspicion which pervaded Europe during WWI (let’s think about the desertion or riot episodes and, on the other hand, the pervasive propaganda and censorship machine to control information and behaviors).

Cummings tells us what get wrong in human life during the first world war, even far away of the trenches and the battles. He tells us how WWI seeped through all - spiritual and material - layers of human life, undermining also the sense of appartenence at the same "nation", of fight for the same "ideal". Yet, the novel never neglects its picaresque style in portraiting the different characters, nor its mood of adventure, leading so the reader to walk with the author, smiling despite all with him, in the "beautiful darkness" of The enormous room.

Women's Movements and Female Activists in the Aftermath of the First World War, 1918-1923 (CfP)

Below is another interesting Call for Papers (still a few days to submit your abstracts). With this project we are here in the aftermath and for us this is the opportunity to stress one thing that might seem obvious: the First World War is not only the five-year period between 1914 and 1918 but what comes before and, above all, what this tragedy scattered afterwards. Also the First World War Centenary is going to become a great opportunity for all the nations celebrating it if its action and meaning will go further, without stopping at November 2018. If that is not going to happen, the Centenary is going to become another lost chance. 

Women’s Organisations and Female Activists in the Aftermath of the First World War: Central and Eastern Europe in National, Transnational, International and Global Context.

An interdisciplinary, international conference to be held at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary. 17th-19th May 2013. Recent developments in the social and cultural history of modern warfare have done much to shed new light on the experience of the First World War, and in particular how that experience was communicated in popular and high culture, and in acts of remembrance and commemoration after 1918. The post-war period (ca 1918-1923) is distinctive, both within individual nations and as a point of international comparison. It is characterised by the often troubled transition from a wartime to a peacetime society; continued conflicts over the repatriation of refugees and POWs; revolutionary and counter- revolutionary violence in parts of Central Europe; and new ethnic and national conflicts arising from the collapse of the former Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires, and the cultural anxieties that surrounded these events. Within this context, the role of organised women's movements and female activists in the post-war period takes on a new importance. The aim of this conference is to explore major comparative themes such as citizenship, suffrage, nationalism, commemoration, revolution and militarised technology from a national, international and transnational perspective. It will have a particular focus on movements and activists operating in or communicating with Central and Eastern Europe. It will examine the work of organisations and individuals able to move across international borders, such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) or the journalist Eleanor Franklin Egan, who reported on social conditions throughout post-war Europe. The role of such women and organisations in bringing about reconciliation and facilitating cooperation between former enemy nations (cultural demobilisation, ‘the dismantlement of the mindsets and values of wartime’—John Horne) will also be examined, as will the role of nationalist women's organisations in perpetuating discourses of war and in facilitating the rise of new forms of ethno-nationalism and racial intolerance (‘cultural remobilisation’) during the period 1918-1923. This conference is the fourth in a series. The first conference, The Gentler Sex: Responses of the Women’s Movement to the First World War, 1914-1919, London, held in 2005, was followed in 2008 with Aftermaths of War: Women’s Movements and Female Activists 1918-1923, Leeds, and in May 2012 with Women’s Organisations and Activists: Moving Across Borders, Hamline. Publications arising from the earlier conferences include special issues of Minerva: Journal of Women and War and two edited volumes: Fell, A.S. and Sharp, I.E. (eds) (2007) The Women's Movement in Wartime. International Perspectives 1914-1919. Palgrave Macmillan and Sharp, I.E. and Stibbe, M. (eds) (2011) Aftermaths of War: Women’s Movements and Female Activists, 1918-1923 (Brill). The Budapest Conference is linked in particular with the Hamline Conference which focused on the US experience and transnational organisations. It is supported by a network grant from the UK-based Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Two special issues of a peer-reviewed journal and a volume of comparative essays are planned for 2014, based on papers given at both conferences.  

Confirmed speakers include: Judit Acsády (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest) Alison Fell (University of Leeds, UK) Susan R. Grayzel (University of Mississippi, USA) Gabriella Hauch (University of Vienna, Austria) David Hudson (Hamline University, USA) Ingrid Sharp (University of Leeds, UK) Olga Shnyrova (Ivanonvo State University, Russia) Matthew Stibbe (Sheffield Hallam University, UK) Nikolai Vukov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia).

Proposals for papers and/or panels that deal with the work of women’s organisations or female activists between 1918 and 1923 are invited in the following areas: 
- Commemoration and discourses of heroism; 
- transnational organisations and activities transcending the nation state; 
- peace-building and reconstruction: cultures of resistance to war and the mind sets of war; 
- right-wing women and culture remobilisation; 
- on-going campaigns for suffrage and women’s organisations post-suffrage, specifically in the Central and Eastern European context; 
- socialist women and revolutionary violence; 
- women and the technology of war; 
- women’s involvement in relief work and social activism, particularly in the Central and Eastern European context;
- cultural reflections of post-war society in art, literature and film, particularly in the Central and Eastern European context

Contributions are welcome from any field or discipline, including literary and cultural studies, sociology and social anthropology, women’s and gender studies, peace and war studies, as well as history itself. Please send abstracts (500 words in English) to Ms Ingrid Sharp i.e.sharp@leeds.ac.uk and Professor Matthew Stibbe m.stibbe@shu.ac.uk by Friday 7th December 2012