***Abstracts Due December 31st 2017***

Refusing to Fight: Reimagining War in Global Perspectives

11-13 October 2018

Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Conference Call for Papers

Violence and war play starring roles in historical research and education. They are also rich fodder for film and television, and books about war dominate the history sections of bookstores. Conflicts between and within groups, nations, empires, and kingdoms reveal political tensions, cultural divisions, social upheavals, and individual identities.

What about those who choose not to fight? Often derided as cowards, shirkers or traitors to a cause, these individuals rarely provide more than a beige canvas on which to display the supposedly more robust and vibrant colours of a real man (or woman). In most histories, the refusal to fight is the exception, and reasons to desert, to dodge a draft or resist a state’s call to war are rarely explored. Deserters and their stories are assumed unimportant, unmanly, unworthy of notice.

This conference will explore the myriad ways and reasons why people decide not to fight, from the ideological and religious, to the personal and practical. It will also assess how states, professions and populations have responded to deserters or draft-dodgers and the extent to which perceptions, representations, and the treatment of these men and women have changed over time. By bringing together scholars who engage with alternative visions of violence, war, heroism and manliness, we hope to gain a broader understanding of how ‘refusing to fight’ has been experienced, studied, and remembered around the globe, from Antiquity to the 21st century.

The conference organizers welcome paper proposals from a range of disciplines, including history, archaeology, the visual and performing arts, psychology, political science, sociology, and public health. Possible topics include:

  • Memory and commemoration of desertion/draft-dodging/anti-war movements;
  • Gender and desertion/draft-dodging/anti-war movements;
  • Desertion, draft-dodging and anti-war movements in pre-national and nationalist eras;
  • Representations of desertion, draft-dodging and ‘malingering’ in art and popular culture;
  • Refugees and forced migrants as deserters/draft-dodgers;
  • The historiography of desertion/draft-dodging/anti-war movements;
  • “Refusal to fire” as a form of anti-war activism;
  • Psychiatric and medical explorations of “refusal to fire”/ desertion/draft-dodging/anti-war movements;
  • Offensive vs defensive wars, and their impact on desertion/draft-dodging/anti-war movements;
  • Economic motivations for desertion/draft-dodging/anti-war movements;
  • International borders as sites of desertion and draft-dodging;
  • Consequences (short- and long-term) of desertion/draft-dodging/anti-war movements.

Individual submissions should include a title, an abstract of no more than 250 words, and a brief biography including your name, institutional affiliation (if applicable), and e-mail contact.

Only previously unpublished papers or those not already committed elsewhere can be accepted. The organizers plan to publish an edited collected of selected papers presented at the conference.

Please submit your proposal/abstract to the conference organizers, at refusingtofight@gmail.com by December 31st, 2017.  Notice of acceptance will be sent out by January 31st, 2018.


Dr. Gregor Kranjc

Dr. Renée Lafferty-Salhany

Dr. Colin Rose

Dr. Elizabeth Vlossak

Ms. Emma Green

Mr. John Raimondo

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