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International Conference: Civilians and Warfare in World History

International Conference: Civilians and Warfare in World History
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Dr. Nicola Foote
Associate professor of History, FGCU
phone: 239-590-7368 

Dr. Nadya Popov-Reynolds
Assistant professor of History, University of West Georgia
phone: 678-839-5370



Panel One: Blurred Lines: Civilians as Soldiers and Non-Combatants within the Armed Forces, Part One – Ancient and Medieval World

Nadya Popov, University of West Georgia

The Theory and Practice of Civilian Participation in Ancient Greek Warfare

In the Greek city-states, the military class – meaning, adult citizen males who could afford armor – was a minority. Upon setting out to war, therefore, the army left behind the vast majority of the population: women, children, the elderly and disabled, foreigners, slaves and, last but not least, adult male citizens who were either too poor to afford armor or, for some other reason, were not drafted for the given campaign. What exactly did they do in time of war? What were the contemporary views of their ideal participation in warfare? Finally, why is there no term for “non-combatants” or “civilians” in the Ancient Greek language? This essay proposes answers to these questions by surveying the theory and practice of non-combatant and civilian participation in Greek land warfare in three different periods: Archaic Greece (ca. 800-480 BCE), the era of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE), and the Late Classical period (the fourth century BCE). 

I argue that the portrayals of civilians’ participation in warfare in Greek literature and historiography become increasingly less symbolic and more “hands-on” over time, reflecting the changing nature of Greek land warfare. In the Archaic period, the accepted ideal was for heroes to do the fighting, in order to retain their monopoly on glory. As a result, the contribution of civilians to warfare in the Archaic period was limited to the religious sphere. At the same time, the inclusion of civilians in the war effort was viewed as essential, because of the state of panic into which the unoccupied civilian could swiftly fall.

The rise of the hoplite phalanx eradicated the possibility of winning individual glory, since all soldiers now had to fight together within the formation. This new ideal of communal participation in war affected the place of the civilian in warfare as well. The era of the Peloponnesian War, specifically, with its introduction of “total war” mentality, encouraged a reassessment of the ideal roles of civilians in the process of war. Through the analysis of civilian participation in Aristophanes’ comedies Acharnians, Peace, and Lysistrata, I argue that the ideal non-combatant in the late fifth century BCE was a pacifist, who was thinking of increasingly more creative – albeit non-violent – ways to intervene into the process of warfare, with the ideal goal of ending the war without bloodshed. Outside the sphere of comedy, however, there remains the previous awareness of the necessity of including the civilian in the war effort in order to maintain the morale of the public and the army. This awareness, I argue, is visible in the Funeral Oration of the Athenian statesman Pericles.

Finally, following the invention of the catapult in the early fourth century BCE, and the increasing complexity of siege warfare thereafter, the role of the civilian in warfare evolved into an even more active one. I argue that from the fourth century onwards, because of the prevalence of siege warfare, the difference between combatants and non-combatants in the Greek city at war became tenuous, as all citizens were now expected to defend their city in time of siege.


Gwyn Davies, Florida International University

Prey or Participants? Civilian siege experiences during the First Jewish Revolt.

This paper will explore the complex role played by civilians in the course of reductive operations mounted by the Roman state in the suppression of the First Jewish Revolt.  This analysis of the Josephan narrative suggests that it would be misleading to view civilian populations solely as passive victims of violence.  Instead, a more nuanced picture emerges that confers a far greater agency to non-combatants in the decision-making of both  besiegers and the besieged.


David Bachrach, University of New Hampshire

Civilians and Militia in Ottonian Germany 919-1024: Warfare in an era of Small Professional Armies

The tenth century traditionally has been depicted by political and military historians as the marking the culmination of the so-called first feudal age, during which the central power of the state, as it had developed under the Carolingians, was broken by the fissiparous ambitions of regional and local magnates. Public power and authority, so this account goes, was seized by a range of secular magnates, who ravaged the church, and oppressed the peasantry with onerous exactions. Alongside this decline in public power and authority, scholars have claimed a concomitant change in the conduct of war whereby small numbers of feudal cavalry, supported in feudal castles, by feudal castellans waged countless small wars against their neighbors by ravaging their lands, burning fields, and seizing cattle and dependents.

In political terms, the model of a “feudal revolution” of the tenth century was called into question in Elizabeth Brown’s classic 1974 study The Tyranny of a Construct, and thoroughly demolished by Susan Reynolds in her magnificent study Fiefs and Vassals. However, the military side of feudalism has survived, particularly the focus on small numbers of mounted warrior nobles, who held putative sway over the country-side of Europe.

This paper calls into the question this model of a small military elite dominating warfare in Latin Europe around the turn of the millennium. Through a focused analysis on the contemporary historical work De diversitate tempororum, composed by Alpert of Metz between 1021-1023, I will show that the lower Rhineland continued to be dominated by the military organization and structures that had been prevalent in the Latin West since the later Roman Empire. This was a tri-partite military organization that was characterized by a mix of both professional soldiers and military forces, who participated in local defense and on campaign. At the broadest level, every able-bodied man was required to defend his home district from outside attack. A subset of this male population was required, on the basis of their wealth, to serve in the expeditionary levy outside the boundaries of their home district. Finally, secular and ecclesiastical magnates maintained military households, whose members constituted the military elite. Crucially, most men of noble status were not professional soldiers, and the great majority of professional soldiers were not members of elite social or economic status.


Melodie Harris Eichbauer, Florida Gulf Coast University

The Bishop with Two Hats: Substantive Law and the Balancing of Episcopal versus Military Obligations in Gratian's Decretum

Gratian’s Decretum organized the canonical tradition into a comprehensive survey and laid a new foundation for canon law. Unlike previous collections that simply included canons from a variety of sources and left the contradictions found in those sources, Gratian reconciled the legal discrepancies uncovered in conciliar canons, papal decretals, the writings of the Church Fathers, and Roman and secular law. Gratian’s approach to law was groundbreaking and novel. He created a new methodology of teaching law by beginning each section of his Decretum with a hypothetical. He then posed questions that addressed specific aspects of each case followed by a series of auctoritates, which either proved or disproved the argument under consideration. Interspersed throughout the questions, Gratian provided dicta where he offered commentary on the matter at hand. As one of the first canonists to insert his own opinions into his collection, Gratian introduced a new instructional technique to the teaching of canon law.

The hypothetical of Causa 23 puts for the case of certain bishops and their congregation who lapsed into heresy. Adding insult to injury, these dissenters took the offensive by forcing those from the surrounding regions into the heresy as well. In retaliation, the pope ordered the catholic bishops, who already received civil jurisdiction from the emperor, to defend the faithful from the heretics however they could and, when they were able, compel them to return to the rectitude of the faith. With papal and secular permission, the bishops called together soldiers and began to fight openly as well as through ambushes. It appears that they accompanied the retinue to the battlefield where the soldiers used both conventional and unconventional military tactics to defeat the aggressors. Finally, with some heretics handed over to be killed, others deprived of their personal property, and still others placed in prisons and dungeons, those enemies who remained were forced to return to the faith. In order to compel the dissenters back to the church, a variety of punishments, not the least of which was capital punishment, were employed.

Scholars typically view Causa 23 within a vacuum, looking solely at the nature of a just war or the Church’s coercive powers.[1]  When one considers, however, that Gratian used the first recension of the Decretum for teaching, a more complex picture comes to light.  Causa 23 fits into a tract on substantive law (i.e. law of obligations) comprising of Causa 22–Causae 26.  Serving as the anchor of the tract, Causa 22 sets down the social norms of the oath whereby each party must ensure the integrity of the oath by fulfilling the requisite obligations and avoiding perjury.  Employing these societal principles I believe that Causa 23 can be read as a case dealing with the practical nature of investiture.  As bishops, prelates owed obedience to the pope, ministered to their flocks, and served as judges in ecclesiastical court.  The bishops, however, had received civil jurisdiction from the emperor—that is, the emperor had invested them as lay lords—and thus they were expected to fulfill feudal obligations, such as military service and serving as judges in secular court.  Gratian sought to teach students how, as future bishops, they should balance their ecclesiastical obligations with the military and judicial obligations required as feudal vassals and lords.  In order to do this Gratian employs a particular pedagogical technique of organizing material according to a “theoretical approach and application of the approach” model.  Gratian devotes particular questions to a definition of or a justification for the law—that is, the theory behind the law—while he devotes other questions to execution of the law—that is, how the law should be applied. Setting forth the philosophical underpinnings that military service and thus the waging of wars were justified, secular benefices were permitted to be used in defense of the church and, while obligations were owed to the emperor, they could not be fulfilled in violation of the obligations owed to the pope.  Echoing the Concordat of Worms (1122) that ended the Investiture Controversy, Gratian illustrated how a bishop could hold both an ecclesiastical and a secular benefice.  He simply had to know when to wear which hat.

[1] As examples, see Frederick Russell, Just War in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975) and Stanley Chodorow, Christian Political Theory and Church Politics in the Mid-Twelfth Century: The Ecclesiology of Gratian’s Decretum (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972).


Panel Two: Blurred Lines. Civilians as Soldiers and Non-Combatants within the Armed Forces, Part Two – The Early Modern and Modern World  

Trntje Helfferich, Ohio State University

Civilians in Combat: Indistinct Boundaries in the Thirty Years War 

As they swept back and forth across Central Europe, the armies of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) had a devastating effect on civilian populations.  While most scholarship still portrays ordinary peasants and townspeople as victims, the distinction between civilian and soldier was less well-defined than in the modern age. Indeed, those we might ordinarily consider non-combatants were often thrust into the middle of the fighting.  Most often, civilians resisted non-violently by running away or hiding their belongings, but they also engaged in banditry and revenge violence, they took part in haphazard or quickly-thrown together forms of defensive or offensive warfare, and they joined (or were pressed into) peasant rebellions or well organized government-sanctioned militias.  Furthermore, though one can trace some early developments towards the professionalism of military forces, 17th century armies were not as organized as those of the 18th, and even clear soldiers, sworn and paid, slipped easily into the role of civilians during down times or off season.  Many civilian non-combatants were, therefore, combatants, which is not just an issue of nomenclature but a more fundamental problem with our continued use of these categories in a time when there was no unambiguous line between the two.


Nicole Dombrowski, Towson University

Who is a non-combatant and how can we know? Writing the History of the Modern Complexities of Experience and Categorization of Non-Combatants in Comparative Global Historical Perspective, 1776-Present

This chapter traces the evolution of identities, legal categorization and experience of non-combatants in domestic and international conflicts from the Age of Revolution (1770’s) to the present.  It examines various national and international cases over the modern period, to consider continuities and ruptures in the ways non-combatants experience warfare. In the 18th century, non-combatants lended support to struggles for statehood and national independence as in the American Revolution and the Haitian Revolution. This section introduces the theme of citizens seizing arms against governments defined as foreign or imperial. Another section on citizens engaged in violent armed struggle bears witness to how non-combatants have contributed to domestic change. The chapter evaluates case studies in which gender becomes a mobilizing factor for non-combatants supporting or witnessing struggles for domestic political reform and international restructuring.

Over the twentieth century, international conflict, technology and total warfare have deepened the complex relationship of non-combatants to war’s multi-front systems of violence, national defense and invasion. I describe how changes in industrial production, modern agricultural supply and health support during World War I and World War II integrate non-combatants into modern systems of national defense. Complementing non-combatant integration into war’s waging, a growing phenomenon of civilian, non-combatant displacement and dislocation have emerged as a common experience during wartime conflict and postwar (1945) reconstruction, presented here as a contrast to non-combatant integration. I conclude with a brief survey of the state of international law designed to protect non-combatants, refugees and especially displaced women from statelessness, genocide and war-related violence.


Erik Carlson, Florida Gulf Coast University

Two Kinds of Civilians: American Encounters with Civilians on Kerama Retto and Ie Shima

In April of 1945, the U.S. 77th Infantry Division stormed the small, satellite island of Ie Shima off the coast of Okinawa. The purpose of this amphibious assault was to capture the island to build airfields to use in the main phase of Operation ICEBERG -- the invasion of Okinawa. During the fight for Ie Shima, American soldiers met fierce resistance from several thousand Japanese soldiers. After the six day battle was over, American forces found that nearly 1,500 civilians, men and women, had fought along with professional Japanese soldiers in the fight for Ie Shima.

The brief, but bitter battle for Ie Shima has been forgotten by military historians because of the deadlier battle on Okinawa, and overshadowed by the fact that well-known American war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed on the island during the first days of the battle.

The discovery of civilian dead mixed with Japanese soldiers killed in battle sent a chilling message to American commanders preparing for Operation DOWNFALL. Would the Japanese military employ civilian paramilitary forces during the proposed November 1945 invasion of Japan? What would be the Allied response? How does this fact exemplify the determined nature of Japanese preparations for homeland defense and the nation’s unwillingness to surrender in 1945? And does this explain the use of the atomic bomb?

The author will try to fit the use of Japanese civilians as combatants into the new post-revisionist view of unconditional surrender and the use of atomic bombs based upon the release of top-secret ULTRA documents in the late 1990s. This paper will use archival sources from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the U.S. Army Center for Military History, among other primary sources.


Panel Three: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Civilians in Warfare

Jeffrey Hass, Ave Maria University

Civilians on the Northern Border in Fourteenth Century England

During the Middle Ages life on the border territory – or march – between two contentious countries / territories was a precarious proposition for civilians.  Caught, literally, between a rock and a hard place people who ordinarily were non-combatants often found themselves on the front lines in a variety of situations.  This paper will discuss the effects of the Anglo-Scottish wars of the fourteenth century had on the civilians who lived in the northern march of England; particularly how they dealt with Scottish invasion.  Although examples throughout the region will be utilized, the work will focus primarily on the western portion of the march near the fortress, and market, city of Carlisle.  


Jason Warren, United States Military Academy at West Point

All Warfare is Local: Colonial Relations With Local Native Groups During King Philip’s War, 1675-1676

King Philip’s War (1675-1676) was one of the bloodiest per capita in American history.  Although hostile native groups damaged much of New England, Connecticut emerged unscathed from the conflict.  Connecticut achieved success where the other New England colonies failed by establishing a policy of moderation towards the native groups living within the colony’s borders.  This relationship set the stage for successful military operations.  Local native groups, whether allied or neutral did not assist hostile Indians, denying them the critical intelligence necessary to plan attacks on Connecticut towns.  The English colonists convinced allied Mohegan, Pequot, and Western Niantic warriors to support their military operations, giving Connecticut forces a decisive advantage in the field.  Connecticut’s native population chose to remain neutral or to actively assist the colony’s English colonists, a point sometimes obscured by historians


Patrick Bottiger, Florida Gulf Coast University

Fearing Prophetstown: French and Miami Self-Interest and Frontier Violence in Indiana Territory, 1808-1811

Despite efforts by American territorial governor William Henry Harrison and the Shawnee leader Tenskwatawa to unify their peoples on the Indiana frontier, there were challenges to the nascent American and Indian nationalisms forming in the Ohio Valley.  Most successful of these proto-national groups were the French, who had survived despite Anglo-American attempts to force them off their land, and the Miamis, who defied the Shawnee Prophet’s attempts to unify all Indian peoples against white invaders.  While these groups have been characterized as marginal players, they shaped the creation and implementation of Indian policies through their roles as interpreters and traders. 

Having developed an intricate and far-reaching system of kinship and regional trade with both Indians and Euro-Americans, the French and Miami were frightened by the Shawnee Prophet’s demands that Indians stop trading and associating with Euro-Americans.  In fact, inter-ethnic and inter-racial relationships were at the heart of Miami identity.  As the Americans, namely Harrison, worked to gain land cessions from the Indian communities and to keep tabs on the Prophet, they relied increasingly on French and Miami middle-men, interpreters, and diplomats.  Placed in such important and influential positions, the Miami and French exaggerated and lied about the Prophet’s intentions in order to undermine his influence, which was increasingly at odds with Miami and French traditions.  In manipulating information about Prophetstown, the Miami and French complemented growing fears that the Prophet planned to destroy all white people in the region, which ultimately helped to fuel violence between the Americans and Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe.


Nicola Foote, Florida Gulf Coast University

War, Civilians, and the Formation of Ethnic and National Identities in Modern Latin America

This paper examines how the civilian experience of war has impacted the formation of ethnic and national identities in Latin America from independence to the present. Scholars are increasingly recognizing the role that the military as an institution has played in race and nation formation in Latin America, yet there has been little exploration of war as a broader social process as a lens through which to examine regional identities. Indeed, the only work which has been done to date on civilians in modern Latin America has sought to reconstruct the everyday life of civilians during various military conflicts (see especially Santoni, 2008).  My work will be among the first to explore how civilian experiences of war shaped both elite and popular ideas about national belonging, with particular focus on ideas about race and national identity. In this paper I will assess the connection between the idea held by elites in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that Afro-Latin Americans were a source of political instability and too  “bloodthirsty” and “uncivilized” to be granted citizenship and the predominance of blacks as soldiers in the violent civil wars of this period. I will also examine the intersections between the brutalities and massacres committed against the indigenous peoples of Central America during the civil wars of the 1970s and 80s and the emergence of a radical indigenous rights movement that led to the redrafting of national constitutions in the early 1990s.


Panel Four: Attacks on Civilians  -- Practical Considerations and Consequences

Bernard Bachrach, University of Minnesota

Collateral Damage in Christian Warfare from Constantine I to the First Crusade

In this paper an effort will be made to clarify what is to be understood as collateral damage in pre-Crusade Europe. Therefore, I will be working with a view of collateral damage that encompasses the killing or wounding of people not engaged in military operations and the destruction of material assets that are not relevant to the prosecution of such efforts. It will be shown that contrary to many modern views that medieval warfare was particularly barbarous, in pre-Crusade Europe there was relatively little collateral damage. This was because, by and large, the population was thoroughly militarized. Since most warfare was focused on sieges, not only were all able bodied men called upon to defend the walls but women and those children, who were physically able to participate also were required to play a role in the defense. Even clergy, who were prohibited from carrying arms, are seen to have contributed to the war effort, as both sermons and religious ceremonies were understood to have improved the morale of the defenders. 


Stephen Conway, University College London

The response of American non-combatants to British army depredations during the War of Independence

The British army’s treatment of American non-combatants during the War of Independence has attracted the attention of many historians.  Most modern scholars content themselves with describing various British outrages, particularly at certain critical junctures during the war, such as in New Jersey in December 1776 and South Carolina in the summer of 1780.  Some try to apportion blame, with the conduct of the army’s German auxiliaries a particularly favourite topic for debate.  A few more adventurous souls seek to explain why the British army behaved as it did.   Historians rarely comment explicitly on the impact of British depredations on American attitudes, probably for the simple reason that it seems so obvious: the destruction and loss experienced by colonists of all types must surely have made the British army’s task more difficult, and even driven large numbers of Americans into the revolutionary camp.  But does this tell us all we need to know about American reactions?

What emerges from a wide range of sources is the very varied nature of the American response to British indiscipline.  Some Americans certainly appear to have been estranged by the behaviour of the British army, but others benefited from their compatriots’ suffering.  Still others, rather than becoming outwardly antagonistic towards the British cause, appear to have been cowed by their misfortunes.  Many more examples can be found of Americans who were politically unmoved; they seem not to have identified more strongly with the revolutionary side as a result of experiencing British depredations, whether directly or vicariously.  Perhaps the most common hostile response was not the taking up of arms against the British forces, but low-level non-co-operation, which in the end may have caused the army more problems than enraged colonists who took pot-shots at British soldiers.  Some aspects of this story were no doubt peculiar to the circumstances of the time and place; but the varied response of Americans to treatment that one would expect to produce only one reaction suggests that we should not make assumptions about the behaviour of civilians at other times and in other places who found themselves in similar situations.


Marilyn Young, New York University

Quantifiable Abstractions: Bombing Civilians

This paper will focus on three key moments in America’s long history of bombing civilians: World War II, the US war in Indochina, when US bombing reached an apogee; and the post-Vietnam wars. 


John M. Cox, University of North Carolina – Charlotte

Warfare as Catalyst for Genocide

World War I ushered in the age of modern “total war.” Atrocities against civilians ceased to be incidental to war, as they always had been, but were in some cases an essential component of military strategy. But nothing could have prepared the world for the carnage of World War II, in which—for the first time in modern history—civilian deaths outnumbered military casualties. In both world wars and in other modern conflicts, warfare became a crucible of genocide, as ruling groups saw the war as an opportunity to pursue their fantasies. The instability and brutalization wrought by war intensified the most belligerent, racist trends in multiple societies, while strengthening the appeal of murderous solutions to perceived population problems or ethnic conflicts.

Through its examination of the two mass genocides that inaugurated and defined a “century of genocide”—the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust—and a comparative approach that encompasses post-WWII war and genocide in Africa and Asia, this paper argues that war exacerbates certain psychological factors, operating at individual as well as collective levels, that are then channeled toward mass violence and cruelty: the definition of entire peoples and societies as “the enemy”; the liking of internal groups (e.g., the Ottoman Armenians and Cambodia’s Vietnamese population) to an external threat; and the dehumanization of the “enemy,” both domestic and foreign. War has also deepened and radicalized the perceived grievances and fears of entire groups of people, and lured their leaders into the most radical solutions to these grievances and fears (which may be completely fantastical, as in the Nazi fear of  “Jewish-Bolshevik” power, but the perception is real). All these factors give rise to the goal of total annihilation of the “enemy.”

In a 2011 book, Vietnam veteran Karl Marlantes suggested two other factors that are relevant to the link between war and genocide: “the least acknowledged aspect of war … is how exhilarating it is”—a dynamic observed in the massacres of Rwandan Tutsis, among other examples; “Under ordinary circumstances the repressed” and negative aspects “of our personalities manifest themselves as small human foibles,” but “in the crucible of war those same weaknesses and petty acts can lead to consequences of immense horror and evil.”


Alexander Downes, George Washington University

It's a Crime, but Is It a Blunder? Evaluating the Efficacy of Targeting Civilians in War


Panel Five: Attacks on Civilians  -- Ethical Debates

John Lango, Hunter College, City University of New York

The Just War Principle of Noncombatant Immunity

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, President Barack Obama endorsed just war theory, including the moral requirement that “whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.” Indeed, the purpose of the just war principle of noncombatant immunity is to spare noncombatants from violence, whenever possible. More exactly, the purpose is to spare noncombatants from intentional violence, from foreseen but unintentional violence that is disproportionate, and even as much as possible from proportionate violence. Evidently, the noncombatant immunity principle is not merely an ivory tower concern of philosophers and theologians. This talk examines the historical period from World War II into the 21st century. First, by studying the history of indiscriminate methods of warfare, I distinguish three different types of noncombatants: “auxiliaries” (e.g., civilians who work in munitions factories), “hostiles” (e.g., civilians who feed and shelter terrorists), and “innocents” (e.g., children, the aged and infirm, and civilian hostages). Second, by studying the history of the laws of war -- and, in particular, Additional Protocol I (1977) to the Geneva Conventions (1949) -- I clarify the difference between the definition of “combatant” in international law and the conception of “combatant” in just war theory. Third, by studying together the history of just war theory and the history of human rights, I explain how the noncombatant immunity principle should be grounded in human rights theory. The goal is to rethink the noncombatant immunity principle, in order to ensure its relevance to contemporary forms of armed conflict.


Jan Lemnitzer, Oxford University

Why is Killing Civilians Bad? The History of a Modern Debate

This paper will address the fundamental question since when, why and with what consequences the idea that unarmed civilians should not be bombarded entered international relations and naval strategy. In a second step, the paper will then discuss how an exception from this ban was created for colonial relations and how this exception would later return to 'civilised' Europe under the guise of 'total war'. In 1854, the first restraints on naval operations for the protection of civilians were introduced for the Crimean War, while in 1907 the Second Hague Conference finally created an international norm banning the naval bombardment of undefended towns. However, naval bombardment of defenceless settlements survived as a form of control and punishment in colonial relations. Whereas the bombardments of Valparaiso (1866) or Alexandria (1882) provoked a public outcry in Europe and America, attacks on African settlements like those on Onitsha (1879) or Batanga (1880) were celebrated by local missionaries and businessmen and ignored by the wider public. This is particularly important since the lower standards in the protection of civilians established in the colonial context eventually returned to Europe: the rules on naval bombardment became the guidelines for the conduct of bombardment by air, and the airplane took over the role of the gunboat in restraining and suppressing colonial resistance. Crucially, many of the decision-makers during the Second World War either referred to examples of successful colonial warfare by bombardment, or had actively taken part in such campaigns. Thus, the paper will explain the rise of the notion that civilians should be protected as well as the reasons that were put forward at various points why in a particular case bombarding civilians was morally justified.


John Chappell, Webster University

Still Essential: Looking Beneath the Mushroom Cloud

This paper argues that as the number of people directly affected by World War II decreases exponentially each year, it remains essential for Americans to confront what happened beneath the mushroom clouds at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I will briefly cover recent scholarship about aerial bombing of civilians in particular during World War II.  The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked the awful culmination of those trends.  I want to emphasize the importance of the personal narrative of hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) in understanding what happened.  Aerial bombing—from both conventional aircraft and remote-controlled drone aircraft—continues as widespread policy.  Voices from Hiroshima and Nagasaki remind us what can happen when civilians become targets in warfare.


Rajmohan Ramanathapillai, Gettysburg College

Animals at War: The Rights of Non-Human Animals in Warfare

Humans have a complex relationship with nonhuman animals that is shaped by their anthropocentric world views and chauvinisms. On one hand, humans have a long history of admiring powerful nonhuman animals and worshiping them as a representation of the divine. On the other hand, humans exploited them ruthlessly on a large scale in military expeditions and exposed them to irreparable injuries and death in wars. When nonhuman animals lose their military utility or possess no use after a war, militaries euthanize and dispose of them without remorse. This paradoxical relationship not only demonstrates how human relationships with nonhuman animals are socially constructed out of human centered needs but also reveals the worst human chauvinism with total disregard to the wellbeing and life of nonhuman animals. By defining five stages of our relationship with nonhuman animals this chapter explores the impact of the military complex and its practices on nonhuman animals.


Panel Six: The Most Vulnerable and Innocent? – Women, Children, and Warfare

Kathy Gaca, Vanderbilt University

Mass Rape and its Modes of Warfare in the Ancient Mediterranean

Ancient warfare as aggravated sexual assault en masse against captive women and girls was a complex set of aggressive practices, just like its first-phase counterpart of men killing men in armed conflict.  The ulterior motives and degrees of cruelty varied depending on whether the warfare was predatory, expansionist, or retaliatory across and within ethnic lines and regions, including civil strife.


René Harder Horst, Appalachian State University

Indigenous Women’s Participation in Latin American Warfare

Throughout world history, women have often borne the brunt of military conflicts.  This has certainly been the case in Latin America, where perpetrators of violence have at times targeted women to inflict the greatest damage on civilian populations.  Indigenous women in particular suffered adverse results from violent encounters.  Surprisingly though, some women also chose to participate in such struggles.  From Cortes’ arrival to the Zapatista uprising, from the Chaco War to the Sandinista Revolution, from the Mexican Revolution to the Shining Path conflict in Peru, from the War of the Pacific to the FMLN revolt in El Salvador, armed encounters have touched the lives of indigenous women and they responded in a variety of interesting ways.   This paper broadly traces the results of armed conflicts for native women and examples of their participation in some struggles throughout Latin American history. 


Stewart Lone, University of New South Wales

The Supporting Cast: Women and Youth in the Nationalist Wars of Northeast Asia 1890s-1940s 

This paper focuses on the three modern wars of the newly-created nation-state of imperial Japan between the 1890s 1940s, and brings in comparisons with imperial and republican China over the same period. It begins with the view that war is not a natural inclination of human society; it is a theatrical construct which must be scripted, and made popularly acceptable, by the state and its ideologues. Within this script of war and war-readiness, women and youth perform a critical role; theirs is the task of continually being seen to support the men at war, regardless of setback and adversity, and simultaneously of maintaining the appearance of ‘normal’ life on the home front. Thus, women and youth have two ‘battles’ to fight and two roles to play. The chapter considers some of the major ‘stages’ for the display of wartime nationalism by women and youth: the railway station, the religious shrine or burial site, and in the commercial media of film and print. In addition to the state-sponsored mass groups for women and youth, it includes topics as diverse as children’s comics and games, clothing, popular song and film, as well as the role of university students in the creation of a ‘kamikaze’ suicide corps. It identifies the actions demanded of women and youth by the state, and examines areas where either group might change or challenge their role. It also asks whether the true centre of gravity, as Clausewitz termed it, is not the state or the military in a modern war of nationalism but rather the home front of women and youth and, thus, can it be argued that the ‘supporting cast’ are in fact the lead performers in any such conflict?


James Marten, Marquette University

The Intersection of Children, Childhood, and Armed Conflict: From the American Civil War to the Second World War

Toward the end of the First World War, the American economist Irene Osgood Andrews wrote that “family life is defaced beyond recognition.”  A more accurate observation might have been that in this, as in any war, it was actually childhood that had been altered almost beyond recognition” by the demands of the war.  Andrews’ remark transcends the Great War, of course, as throughout history children and youth have sadly, inevitably, been tightly bound up in every facet of warfare, as victims and actors, observers and participants.  Children and youth long to be part of the adult world around them, and wars provide an urgent opportunity to do so.  The stakes are higher, of course, than in any other human enterprise.  Wars can be catastrophic for children; they can also be transformative and even liberating.  Sometimes they are both.  Focusing on the United States and Europe between the middle of the nineteenth and the middle of the twentieth centuries, “The Intersection of Children, Childhood, and Armed Conflict” will examine factors that have drawn children into wars, attitudes within western societies that lead to an acceptance of the necessity of children’s participation in war, and the outcomes of that participation.


Jocelyn Courtney, Columbia University

Child Soldiers in Modern Civil Wars

In recent years, the nature of armed conflict has changed dramatically. Since the end of the Cold War, conflicts around the world have become increasingly internal and are rarely fought on well-defined battlefields. The combatants themselves are often difficult to distinguish from those on the sidelines. In particular, the widespread participation of child soldiers in such conflicts transcends the traditional combatant versus non-combatant distinction and the narrow conceptualization of child soldiers that dominates the literature.

The differential patterns of recruitment of the young, their experience of camp life, and the varying activities of the children makes distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants nearly impossible. While it is often assumed that children are victims, and only become soldiers if they are forcibly abducted, have no other economic opportunities, or are ideologically committed to the cause, the realities of war blur the boundaries between choice and coercion for children.

The total effect of civil war on societies means the closing of schools, massive relocations, and lack of economic opportunities. Children may have no other choice then to affiliate with one of the armies. In order to facilitate an understanding of the role of children in recent civil wars, this essay will explore their participation in El Salvador’s civil war (1980-1992), and in Mozambique’s civil war (1977-1992). Commentators have noted the existence of child soldiers in both wars, but, thus, far they have missed the all-consuming nature of war for the children, and their centrality in the struggles.

In formal conflicts, the erroneous equation of “child soldier” with “combatant” and the negative international reception to that title has meant that children and young people are often further neglected during the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs after the war. Young fighters are released from service before inclusion in the formal demobilization. Their lives are formidably shaped by war, but without money, jobs, education, vocational training or family to turn to, they are often left only with the weapons that they managed to save and their knowledge of war.

To understand the phenomena of child soldiering, it is necessary to reexamine the traditionally narrow conceptualization of child soldiers, and to take into account less visible roles played by children. Monolithic stereotypes belie the multiple roles and experiences played by both boys and girl during war. In modern conflicts, children undertake combatant and non-combatant roles— and quite frequently, do so simultaneously. They use firearms, build explosives, and conduct fact-finding and reconnaissance missions, but they also babysit, or serve as cooks, porters, or sentries.

In less formal conflicts, like Colombia and northern Uganda, children also serve as combatants. In some regards, their experiences mirror those of the child soldiers in civil wars, and in others, their experiences are very different. The idea of children as “victims” of war tends to obscure the fact that many young children played a variety of different and often simultaneous roles in the conflict.

Despite increasing international attention to and awareness of children’s rights, the use of child soldiers today is far more widespread than the limited attention that it typically receives. Researchers have found a quarter of a million children serving in conflicts in dozens of countries, and it is very likely that there are many children that they have missed. Without a broader perspective on what constitutes a child combatant, and direct preventative measures taken to end the practice, child soldiering will most likely continue. A better understanding of the role of child combatants around the world can serve as a lesson for all those engaged in armed conflicts, and for all those interested in protecting the one of society’s most vulnerable sectors.


Panel Seven: Civilian Experiences of War and Shifts in Intellectual, Political and Cultural Currents

Michael Neiberg, United States Army War College

A Dance of the Furies: Civilians and the Outbreak of War in 1914

The common explanation for the outbreak of World War I depicts Europe as a minefield of nationalism, needing only the slightest pressure to set off an explosion of passion that would rip the continent apart. This paper challenges this explanation for the outbreak of violence, and shows that ordinary Europeans, unlike their political and military leaders, neither wanted nor expected war during the fateful summer of 1914. By focusing on the ways that people outside the halls of power reacted to the rapid onset and escalation of the fighting, it seeks to dispel the notion that Europeans were rabid nationalists intent on mass slaughter and to reveal instead a complex set of allegiances that cut across national boundaries.


Erika Kuhlman, Idaho State University

War Widows, Pro-natal Movements, and Remilitarization in Interwar Europe

Politicians, intellectuals, teachers, and religious leaders of all political persuasions in France, Germany, and Great Britain constructed alarmist pro-natal campaigns to publicize the falling birth rates within their borders and to offer solutions. Great Britain lagged behind both France and Germany in pro-natalist propaganda production, and Germany fell in behind France, particularly during the war. Much of the pro-natalist literature included dire warnings about what a low population would mean for a nation threatened by invasion from its neighbors. Large-family activists, in other words, worked hand-in-hand with the remilitarization of the nation-state in the wake of the Great War. In addition, transnational eugenicists in Europe and the United States cooperated to create and sustain national policies based on the presumed inferiority of certain perceived racial groups and designed to encourage births among “racially valuable families.” Women’s rights organizations, such as Germany’s mighty Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine, also encouraged women to fill empty bassinets. Birth rates in England, France, Germany, and the United States had been falling well before the war, but during the conflict statistics indicated precipitous plummets in the numbers of babies being born within the warring nations. War widows, like all women in European societies after the Great War, understood the decision to conceive a child as not merely an individual choice or even an option for their families, but as a matter deeply affecting the postwar societies in which they lived.


Geoffrey Hudson, Northern Ontario School of Medicine

Ripping off the War Disabled? A whistleblower extraordinaire & the rapacious civilian elite of 18th-century Britain

For three months in 1779 England watched with great and growing interest as the House of Lords investigated a sensational case of whistleblowing. Examined were charges of corruption by a civilian interest inside and outside of a military hospital, official negligence, political interference, gross patronage, and ill treatment of the nation's most deserving, the poor disabled ex-sailors in the Royal Greenwich Hospital. All these charges were initially brought by one man: Thomas Baillie the recently terminated lieutenant governor of that hospital.

This story of whistleblowing has never been told properly, or its import assessed by scholars. Employing a wealth of printed and manuscript sources I place this fascinating case within the context of a wider study of war and disability in England from 1580 to 1800. In so doing I explore its import for our understanding of the experience and agency of the those disabled in service, the relationship between disability, age and civilian status, as well as the division between combatant and non-combatant within institutions associated with the military.


Judith Hicks Stiehm, Florida International University

Arming for the Warfare Debate

In recent years the U.S. military has consistently won high approval ratings even though there has been little debate about either its nature or how it is used.  The U. S. engages in wars “of choice” but U. S. citizens, those ultimately responsible for the military, don’t actually exercise much choice.  Indeed, most know very little about the military. The goal here is to provide a primer, an A, B. C,  so that citizens  -  you -  will feel prepared/armed  to participate in or even to inaugurate debate about when, where, and why our military sees action. 


Panel Eight: Civilian Life and Culture In Wartime 

Susan R. Grayzel, University of Mississippi

Aerial Warfare and the Militarization of Civilian Life During and After the First World War

On 22 October 1917, British soldier Jack Mudd sent a letter to his wife days before he would be reported missing in action.  The letter reveals his fears not for his own safety but for that of his family at home in England: "I guess you have been worried with the air raids[.] [Y]ou know dear its hard to be out here fighting & yet your wife & children cant be safe still dearest dont worry you have a 20,000 to 1 chance & God will watch over you as he has been with me ever since I have been out here."[i] The odds against Lizzie Mudd being killed in an aerial attack were better than her husband calculated and, in the end, her survival of this new form of warfare and his death in a more traditional battleground mirror the statistics for civilian and military casualties during the war. Yet Jack Mudd's letter suggests the need to consider the profound changes in the common understanding of what warfare now meant for civilians and for domestic life that followed the invention of the air raid. 

Drawing upon public accounts  and private documents, this paper traces the adjustments made as families under fire at home and soldiers in more conventional battle zones came to terms with this shift in the nature of warfare.  It argues that the legacy of this transformation during the First World War has been overlooked as providing a basis for understanding the development of preparations for, and vociferous objections to, the mobilization of the entire population, including “wives and children” for the wars to come during the interwar period.  One of the most important arenas for the working out of such ideas can be found in a host of interwar fiction, the focal point of the middle of the paper. While delving primarily into works from the United Kingdom, the paper will briefly reference parallel developments in other parts of Europe.


George Kieh, University of West Georgia

Civilians and Civil Wars: Lessons from West Africa

Civilians have played various roles in civil wars across the international system. In the case of West Africa, they have played three major roles. First, various armed factions in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone have been organized and led by civilian warlords. Second, civilians have served as combatants. Third, civilians have been victims, as evidenced by the bearing of the brunt of death, injury, internal displacement and the refugee conundrum.

Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to examine the nature and dynamics of the multiple roles civilians have played in civil wars in West Africa. In other words, what has been the role of civilians in West Africa’s various civil wars? In this vein, the paper will use the Senegalese, Nigerian, Liberian, Sierra Leonean, Malian, Nigerien, Guinea Bissauan and Ivorian civil wars as the empirics.


Francis Shor, Wayne State University

From Bereaved Mother to Anti-War Activist: The Iconic Transformations of Cindy Sheehan

Throughout history, bereaved parents have poignantly, and mostly privately, mourned the deaths of their soldier sons in wars.  As the mother of a son killed in Iraq in April 2004, Cindy Sheehan transformed her bereavement into outspoken opposition against President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.  This paper will follow the transformation of Cindy Sheehan from public mourner to anti-war activist.  By highlighting her public statements and protests, especially the establishment of “Camp Casey” nearby Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas in August 2005, the paper will probe the dramaturgical contents of those articulations and actions.  In addition, consideration will be give to why and how the media spotlighted Sheehan and the symbolic role she played as a gender contrast to Bush.  Finally, Sheehan’s embrace of “matriotism,” a feminist alternative to patriotism, will highlight the ways that aggrieved civilians challenged war and the war-makers.


[i] Jack Mudd to Lizzie Mudd, letter, 22 Oct. 1917, Mudd Collection, Imperial War Museum [IWM] 82/3/1.