A blog post from CRAM’s Dr Nigel Pollard…
On Thursday 23rd February 2017, the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill 2016-2017 received the Royal Assent and so became an Act of Parliament. This was a big moment for me, as I’ve been part of lobbying efforts to achieve this for the last five years as a board member of the UK National Committee of Blue Shield. The key provision of the Act is that the UK will finally ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the protection of cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and its two Protocols, of 1954 and 1999. ‘Cultural Property’ in this sense includes monuments, sites and buildings, museums, galleries , libraries, archives and their contents ‘of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people’.
Damage to cultural property has been long-standing feature of wars and internal conflicts throughout history, and has been subject to considerable scrutiny in recent decades, through conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Mali, Libya, Egypt and the former Yugoslavia. This is the result of deliberate, ideologically motivated attacks on cultural property associated with other cultures and religions, accidental damage caused by insufficient care and respect for cultural property when conducting military operations, failure of occupying armed forces to safeguard cultural sites and property for which they are responsible, and looting of unprotected sites and collections in conflict zones for the illicit antiquities trade.
The UK, like the USA, didn’t ratify the original 1954 Hague Convention for political and military reasons associated with its Cold War context, and while the UK claimed to work within the spirit of the Convention (for example, at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq), it is the last country with extensive military involvements abroad to ratify it. Passing of the Act and ratification of the Convention will be important symbolic steps in demonstrating the UK’s commitment to the protection of cultural property as well as having practical implications. For example, violations of the Convention and its protocols will be recognised as offences in UK law, and legal sanctions relating to dealing in ‘unlawfully exported cultural property’ will be strengthened. The UK is preparing an inventory of its own cultural property for the purposes of protection, and potentially some buildings may be marked with the Blue Shield emblem for protection, already in use in some countries such as Austria. Another requirement of the Convention is that the UK is establishing a special unit within the armed forces for the protection of cultural property, inevitably popularly dubbed the ‘New Monuments Men’ after the Anglo-American Allied Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Sub-Commission of the Second World War, popularised by the 2014 George Clooney film. In addition, the UK set up a £30 million Cultural Protection Fund to fund projects and initiatives in this field in 2016, after consultation with heritage specialists including myself.
I became interested in this issue through my research relating to damage to archaeological sites such as Pompeii in the Second World War, and the history of the ‘Monuments Men’ organisation. For that reason I played a role in the re-establishment of the UK National Committee of Blue Shield in 2012. However, as an archaeologist, much of my past research and fieldwork related to Roman Syria, so the intensification of the civil war there involved me more and more in contemporary efforts to preserve heritage sites in conflict zones. I’ve digitised many of my images of archaeological sites in Syria that have been damaged in the conflict as a contribution to their preservation for research and teaching.
Prof. John Foot of Bristol University will be speaking at the CRAM semimar on Thursday 30th March. The paper is entitled, ‘Overturning the Asylum: Radical Psychiatry in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s.’ The venue will be Swansea University, Callaghan Building, Room B02/03 and the paper will begin at 5pm.
CRAM member Dr Christoph Laucht will be speaking at the School of Modern Languages, Cardiff University, on 15th March. The paper begins at 1pm and is entitled, ‘Hollywood in Early Cold War Germany’. The venue is MLANG room 0.42.
Prof. John Foot of Bristol University will be speaking at the CRAM semimar on Thursday 30th March. The paper is entitled, ‘Overturning the Asylum: Radical Psychiatry in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s.’ The venue will be Swansea University, Callagahn Building, Room B02/03 and the paper will begin at 5pm.
In this post, Swansea University PhD student Allyson Edwards explains her research project…
Scholarship about militarism in the Soviet Union and Russia concentrates on the role of men in the armed forces, with minimal focus on how the military culture affected the family unit or the women within it. This is surprising, considering the extent to which the military shaped Russian culture, society, and political life. Whilst men were glorified for their role in the military, women were praised for their role as the mother and wife of those within the armed forces. During the final years of the Soviet Union and the early years of the Russian federation, there were cutbacks in the army. Whilst the man lost his role within the army, the woman maintained her role as the mother and wife.
In July, I was awarded funding by the DTC-ESRC studentship to explore ‘Militarism in Post-Soviet Russia: War, Identity and Culture, 1990-2000.’ My project aims to understand the gendered aspects of militarism, more specifically the extent to which militarism in post-Soviet Russian culture reinforced the patriarchal social structures and in what ways demilitarisation shaped the post-Soviet Russian family. To achieve this, the project focuses on the soldiers that were demilitarised throughout the Yeltsin regime. It will utilise the diaries and memoirs of former soldiers and their partners to identify the extent to which the military defined their identity, how societal perceptions of the military transformed aspects and characteristics of masculinity, and the implications of this process for Russian politics, society, and culture.
Call for Contributions, from Dr Tom Allbeson and Dr Christoph Laucht
Special Issue: ‘Twin Cities – Reconstruction and Reconciliation after 1945’
We are seeking to publish a special issue on the topic of twin cities in the postwar period. We made initial contact with Urban History, which would be our preferred journal for this research.
Deadline for Abstracts: 20 January 2017
Twinships between cities have long played an important role in transnational relations, taking different forms that include school exchange programmes, economic links, sports competitions or cultural events such as theatre performances, food festivals or Christmas markets. Shortly after the end of the Second World War, cities in the former enemy nations contributed to an emerging process of reconciliation by forging ties between municipalities in Germany, Italy and Japan and their British, French and American counterparts. During the Cold War, cities from across the two blocs formed partnerships in an attempt to further the understanding between East and West. And in organizations such as International Cities for Peace or Mayors for Peace city officials engaged in peace campaigning.
Yet, twin cities have so far received relatively little interest from urban historians. While there have been some studies of particular twin cities such as Dresden and Coventry or Birmingham and Frankfurt or partnerships between cities in divided Germany during the Cold War, no broader conceptual attempt has yet been made to explore the place and significance of twin cities in urban history, the ways in which these partnerships manifested themselves socially and culturally, and the relation between the reconstruction of devastated urban centres and postwar reconciliation after 1945.
The proposed special issue on ‘Twin Cities: Reconstruction and Reconciliation after 1945’, thus, sets out to shed more light on this pivotal, yet neglected area of urban history. Through a set of case studies, it seeks to explore different facets and varieties of partnerships between cities with particular reference to the process of reconciliation that occurred during the postwar reconstruction of cities after 1945. We invite contributors to address a range of questions and areas relevant to twin cities, including: in what ways did the postwar construction of international city partnerships relate to the postwar reconstruction of urban centres? To what extent did relations between twin cities reflect larger trends in international relations? How did partnerships between cities in Germany, Italy and Japan, on the one hand, and urbanities in Britain, France and the United States, on the other, shape the agendas and serve the purposes of reconciliation between former foes? What role have twin cities played in the memorialization of the Second World Wars? How did municipal officials and civil servants organize themselves nationally and transnationally to form networks campaigning for peace and reconciliation? What were the most successful foundations (e.g. economic, social, cultural, educational) of twin city partnerships?
Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words and full contact details to both Dr Tom Allbeson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr Christoph Laucht (email@example.com) by 20 January 2017. We aim to invite approximately 7 contributors to submit original research articles of 8,000 words in January 2018. These will be subject to the journal’s peer review process.
Dr Tom Allbeson,
Lecturer in Modern History, Department of History, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP
Dr Christoph Laucht, FRHistS, FHEA
Senior Lecturer in Modern History, Department of History, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP
While the HERA project “Making War, Mapping Europe” (MWME) – in which CRAM member Dr Leighton James is involved – is approaching a conclusion, a central aspect of the collaborative research project’s output will continue to be available to scholars and the broader public alike: its online exhibition. This exhibition employs a wide array of objects and essays to explore intercultural contact within military contexts and can be found under this link:
In six thematic sections, the exhibition “Making War, Mapping Europe” portrays cultural contacts among soldiers from France, England, and Germany who were stationed at the periphery of Europe and in the Middle East during the “long 19th century.” The exhibition was conceptualized for both an academic audience and interested laypeople. Visitors here receive a visual impression of the presence of Napoleonic soldiers in Egypt, Italy, and Russia, as well as German military members’ encounters with the Ottoman Empire and the Balkan region during the First World War. Two further sections of the exhibition are dedicated to Bavarian soldiers in Greece in the 19th century and the British soldiers in Egypt from the 1880’s up to the end of the Great War.
These encounters are evidenced by the array of objects available for view in the exhibition: photographs, works of art, souvenirs, and various daily objects that have survived. Among these objects is a German steel helmet, specifically designed to enable Muslim soldiers to touch their forehead to the ground during ritual prayer, and a braid of hair that a Napoleonic officer, who had landed in Russian war captivity, had kept in memory of his Russian girlfriend. These objects and hundreds of other pictures and artifacts in the exhibition illustrate how military operations and expeditions ultimately functioned as catalysts for various forms of intercultural encounter. Their subject matter and greater implications cover a great spectrum ranging from questions of violence and gender, to knowledge transfer, and finally to the culture of memory surrounding these events.
Artifacts were collected with the support of many museums, archives, and private persons. The historians and art historians from the collaborative research project embedded them in the historical context. General thematic essays then augment the exhibition and simultaneously present the initial research findings of the three year project.
The online exhibition arose within the framework of the HERA-funded international research project ‘Making War, Mapping Europe,’ which is led by Professor Dr. Oliver Janz at the Freie Universität Berlin, and which is supported by its members at the Trinity College Dublin and the British universities of Swansea and York.
This year I have started a new interdisciplinary project sponsored by Cherish DE (http://www.cherish-de.uk/). Weaponization of artificial intelligence presents one of the greatest ethical and technological challenges in the 21st century and has been described as the third revolution in warfare, after the invention of gunpowder and nuclear weapons. Despite the vital importance of this turning point for modern society, legal and ethical practices, and technological development, there is little systematic study of public opinion on this critical issue. Our main objective is to analyze what factors determine public attitudes towards the use of autonomous weapons.
To do this, our research will use an innovative methodology of Youth Juries (18-25 years old) and vignettes that will produce a series of plausible but fictitious scenarios with autonomous weapons that will be presented to a ‘jury’. The jury will consider both problems and future recommendations about the role of AI in military conflict. Rob Wortham will provide technical expertise about the AI and robotics. Elvira Vallejos will design and organize the study. Eugene Miakinkov will contextualize the study in the fields of modern conflict and militarization of technology.
The value of this research lies simultaneously in its contribution to the emerging field of autonomous weapons and in generating recommendations that can influence government policy-makers, industry chiefs, and public discourse. This study is thus vital for a critical understanding of public perceptions of AI in armed conflicts and its implications for the future policy and industry decisions.
The outputs and dissemination for our project include a workshop at University of Nottingham in April 2017, engagement with a wider public through blogs, radio, and popular press, as well as an academic publication summarizing our findings for the specialist community.
Principal Investigator: Eugene Miakinkov (Political and Cultural Studies, Swansea University)
Investigators: Elvira Perez Vallejos (HORIZON Digital Economy Research, University of
Nottingham) and Rob Wortham (Department of Computer Science, University of Bath)
Last September, I secured a British Academy Small Grant for my project on targeted killing in US foreign policy. The project aims at understanding how assassination re-emerged as a policy option in the 1980s in spite of the existence of an Executive Order (EO) banning this. To answer such a question, the project looks at the Congressional inquiries on the CIA assassination attempts during the 1960s. It explores how the Ford Administration reacted to these inquiries and the decisions that led to Executive Order (EO) 11905 banning assassination. Finally, the project explores how, in spite of reconfirming the ban on assassination on paper (with EO 12333), the Reagan Administration started a process of circumventing the order.
I became interested in this process through my research on drones and targeted killings. Literature on drones seems to identify EO 11905 as a watershed moment: the US was involved in assassination attempts before the order, but practice and discussions of assassination were completely banned after such Order and until 9/11. My project aims at elucidating the complexities regarding assassination by exploring how – mostly through re-definitions of the meaning of assassination and of the boundaries of the Order – assassination re-entered the range of policy options long before 9/11.
During the Easter Break, I conducted research at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor (MI). Early in the summer, I presented a paper based on my work on Ford at several conferences including the Central and Eastern European ISA in Ljubljana and the HOTCUS conference in Middelburg. I also organised a panel on normative change surrounding assassination for the Conference of the Italian Standing Group for International Relations in Trento, Italy.
In July, I went back to the States for further research. I conducted archival research at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley (CA), and at the Library of Congress and the National Security Archives in Washington DC. I also conducted a series of elite interviews with former policymakers and academics. These included former Legal Adviser for the U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council John Bellinger III, former Director of the NSA and CIA Gen. Michael Hayden, and former member of the Clinton and Obama Administration Bruce Riedel, a leading expert on counter-terrorism.
Based on this additional research, I presented an updated paper at a conference on the nature of covert action at the University of Nottingham and I arranged a second panel on assassination for the BISA US Foreign policy working group conference at the University of Bath.
Luca Trenta is lecturer in the Department of Political and Cultural Studies at Swansea University. His book, Risk and Presidential Decision-making: The Emergence of Foreign Policy Crises is available with Routledge.
CRAM member Tomás Irish had a busy summer of research, conferences, and commemorative events. At the end of June he was one of the organizers of a summer school called ‘Faces of First World War Battles and Battlefields’ which brought together 25 doctoral and masters students from across Europe and North America who specialize in the study of the Great War. Over a week the group took in a range of battlefields, cemeteries, and memorials at the Somme, Verdun, Chemin des Dames, and other sites, while also participating in a range of workshops given by leading scholars of the First World War at the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne.
The Summer School concluded at Thiepval on 1 July for the official ceremony to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.
Dr Irish then spent three weeks in Paris conducting research on his new project which will look at the intellectual work of the League of Nations in the 1920s and 1930s. The project will examine the emergence of an international understanding of the intellectual (and their role) during and following the Great War. After fruitful stays at the Archives Nationales, the Bibliotheque de documentation international contemporaine, and the UNESCO archives, he travelled to Asiago in Italy for an international conference on the role of universities during the First World War. His summer concluded in Swansea with a talk to the local branch of the Historical Association about the memory of the year 1916 in Ireland.
Dr Irish is author of
This summer CRAM member Dr Tom Allbeson has been working on a book for Bloomsbury. Provisionally titled Reconstructing Europe: Photography and the Cultural History of the City, c.1945-60, it will be published as part of their new series on photography and history. The book looks at the prominent role of urban photography in the debates about rebuilding the towns and cities of Britain, France and West Germany in the wake of the Second World War. It addresses a range of imagery from the dramatic depiction of war ruins (e.g. Jean Roubier’s photography of Normandy) to the ubiquitous architectural photographs of modernist tower blocks that began to spring up across the continent.
The book will trace this dynamic visual discourse across the pages of exhibition catalogues, the illustrated press, coffee table books and all sorts of other photographically illustrated publications, from souvenirs to government-sponsored pamphlets. Tom will argue that – in the immediate aftermath of the bombing campaign and in the early years of the Cold War – the image of the city was a key symbol in Western Europe which facilitated both a negotiation of past conflict and a vision of future cooperation. The manuscript will be off to the publisher at the end of October.