Dr Eugene Miakinkov on public attitudes to weapons technology….

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.

aTo 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)

Luca Trenta on Targeted Killing in US Foreign Policy

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.

aDuring 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.


Dr Tomás Irish on his summer of research and remembrance…

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.


David Cameron speaks at the Thiepval ceremony on 1 July 2016.

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 Trinity in War and Revolution 1912-23. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy Press, 2015) and The University at War 1914-25: Britain, France, and the United States. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.


Ruins, reconstruction and photography in Europe after 1945

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.


Jean Roubier, L’art française dans la guerre: Caen (Paris: Fayard, 1945).

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.

Atlantic Politics, Military Strategy and the French and Indian War

Dr Richard Hall, CRAM member and lecturer in the Department of History at Swansea University, recently published his first book, Atlantic Politics, Military Strategy and the French and Indian War, with Palgrave.  Dr Hall agreed to answer a few questions for the CRAM blog.

How did you become interested in this topic?
I had a passion for the French and Indian War stretching back to my school days and this continued through my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Having had something of a hiatus between my MA and PhD (when I was a primary school teacher), I returned to academia with an idea for a thesis that explored a gap I had found in the historiography of British military defeat during the preliminary stages of the French and Indian War. This I carried through with the guidance of my supervisor, Steve Sarson and, eventually, I managed to get the then completed thesis published (with help from Steve, Leighton James and others) as a monograph with Palgrave Macmillan.

What was the most rewarding aspect of the research?

Finding a different historiographical angle with which to approach a well-studied area of early American history. This period also introduced me to a range of works that provided considerable motivation for my own project and indeed those I plan to undertake in the future.


What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently undertaking preliminary research into the clash of military cultures in North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, building upon an expanding area of early American historiography. I am also exploring the possibilities of a collaborative project concerning fear and soldiers/warfare in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Atlantic Politics, Military Strategy and the French and Indian War

‘1755 marked the point at which events in America ceased to be considered subsidiary affairs in the great international rivalry that existed between the colonial powers of Great Britain and France. This book examines the Braddock Campaign of 1755, a segment of the wider ‘Braddock Plan’ that aimed to drive the French from all of the contested regions they occupied in North America.  Rather than being an archetypal military history-styled analysis of General Edward Braddock’s foray into the Ohio Valley, this work will argue that British defeat at the infamous Battle of the Monongahela should be viewed as one that ultimately embodied military, political and diplomatic divergences and weaknesses within the British Atlantic World of the eighteenth century.  These factors, in turn, hinted at growing schisms in the empire that would lead to the breakup of British North America in the 1770s and the birth of the future United States.  Such an interpretation moves away from the conclusion so often advanced that Braddock’s Defeat was a distinctly, and principally ‘British’, martial catastrophe; hence allowing the outcome of this pivotal event in American history to be understood in a different vein than has hitherto been apparent.’

Swansea CRAM – Cardiff Workshop, Wednesday 18th May 2016

Location: Room B02/03 James Callaghan Building, Swansea University

12pm – Lunch (served in the Callaghan basement foyer)


Panel One – Ruination and Photography: Bodies, Minds and Buildings in Post-War Europe

This panel will examine the intersections between photography and history in the construction of European narratives of the Second World War in the late 1940s. The panel will investigate three ‘case studies’ that illuminate the role of photography as a visual medium mobilised to tell stories of the traumatic ‘ruins’ of war in these years. These photographic ruins all relate to legacies of war that touch on suffering and loss: the bodies of women who had their heads shaved at the liberation of France; the minds of child Holocaust victims cared for in post-war Britain and the buildings of post-war Germany. All three case studies approach photography as a key vector for understanding the context and debates that informed European intercultural relations and dialogue in the immediate post-war period. From ruination to reconstruction, such photographic images played their part in shaping the early visual landscape of the Second World War in European cultural memory.

Speakers: Dr. Tom Allbeson (Swansea); Dr. Rebecca Clifford (Swansea); Prof. Claire Gorrara (Cardiff).

Chair: Prof. Hanna Diamond (Cardiff)

2pm-2.15pm Break


Panel Two – Military Culture and the Militarization of Society and Culture

This panel will explore possibilities for a collaborative research project on military culture and the militarization of society and culture (whether from the top or at lower levels) in the second half of the 20th century and the early 21st century. The papers each examine particular aspects of military culture and/or processes of militarization relating to politics, culture, institutions and/or everyday life, against their broader historical contexts, covering four countries (Argentina, Britain, Italy and Russia).  Focusing on hitherto relatively unexplored aspects of this topic and new types of research materials, the papers place importance on the analysis of cultural mechanisms and strategies employed within the above processes, as evident, for example, in choice of language and styles, the adoption of rituals, and the use of cultural products.

Speakers: Dr Tilmann Altenberg (Cardiff); Dr Jonathan Dunnage (Swansea); Dr Christoph Laucht (Swansea); Dr Eugene Miakinkov (Swansea).

Chair: Dr Caroline Campbell (North Dakota)

4pm-4.45pm – Discussion

‘Playing with Uncertainty: The Politics of the Unknown and the Nuclear Threat in Britain, 1979-85’ Book Project

CRAM member Dr Christoph Laucht has been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant to complete the archival research for his current book project. This study explores the role that uncertainty, as a result of a lack of verifiable knowledge, plays in liberal democratic societies. It examines this crucial, yet widely neglected subject through a micro historical study of the ways in which different actors, including the state, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary groups, experts from various disciplines as well as popular media, used, or ‘played with’, the uncertainty about the expected effects of nuclear war for political purposes. The book studies this politics of the unknown within the British context at a time when perceived fears of a nuclear threat intensified between 1979 and 1985. This research thus makes a major contribution to the study of the epistemological uses of uncertainty in liberal democracies, contributes to de-centring Cold War historiography away from the superpowers, and challenges established assumptions about the dominance of nuclear fear in every-day life.

The memory of the French resistance – Prof. Robert Gildea

On 16 March Prof. Robert Gildea of Oxford University spoke at Swansea University on the subject of the memory of the French resistance.  His paper was sponsored by the Conflict, Reconstruction and Memory (CRAM) research group.  Prof. Gildea is author of numerous ground-breaking books on modern France.  His most recent work is Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance.  His paper at Swansea examined the various ways in which the resistance has been remembered since 1945, with a particular focus on three types of memory – a) societal memory; b) group memory; and c) individual memory.

Societal memory – or what we might term the dominant narrative or ‘myth’ (helpfully defined by Prof. Gildea as a ‘story with political traction’)  – was for a long time dominated by the version of history propagated by General Charles de Gaulle.  This was the story of a military and male-dominated resistance led by de Gaulle from London, which ignored or downplayed both the diversity of resisters and the resistance in France itself.  It was reinforced through devices such as public ceremonies and commemorations, reaching its apogee in 1964 with the interment of Jean Moulin at the Panthéon – the Republic’s ‘temple’ for great men and women.

This memory, however, could not bear the weight of scrutiny during the 1970s and 1980s (after de Gaulle’s death) when academics and filmmakers increasingly challenged its version of history.   A history of Occupied France developed now in which the majority of French preferred to ‘wait and see’ which way the war was going before deciding to back either side; this was far from the Gaullist conception of a ‘nation of resisters’.

During the 1990s, resisters attempted to ‘recover their honour’ by associating themselves with other victims of the war – and especially those French and foreigners who were deported.  There was also a refocusing of the definition of resistance to include rescue.  Ideas of ‘Resistance’, therefore, moved from being narrowly masculine and military towards a more humanitarian understanding of the phenomenon.

Prof. Gildea moved on to explain the memory of particular resistance groups; these memories often came into conflict with the dominant narrative.  The communist memory of the resistance as a popular insurrection sat uncomfortably against de Gaulle’s London-led non-communist history of Resistance.  The climate of the Cold War in France ensured that communist memory remained marginal at least until the 1980s.  Likewise, the Gaullist version of history emphasised the Frenchness of the resistance, excluding those foreigners who had fought.  Only during the 1970s and 1980s did foreigners such as Spaniards and Eastern Europeans begin to assert the memory of their role in the liberation of France.

Women also found themselves left in the cold by the myth of the Gaullist resistance.  Far fewer women were decorated after the war for resistance than deserved to be.  In some instances, the civilian and non-violent roles played by women in underground groups were simply not recognised as resistance.  Prof. Gildea suggested, too, that the male-dominated idea of resistance prevented women from telling their story until the 1970s; he also wondered if women were less likely to come forward to talk about their experience than men.

Finally, Jewish memory was largely excluded from the dominant narrative.  For one thing, Jews in France were regarded as victims of Nazism rather than as heroes of the resistance.  Many Jewish French also wanted to assert their own Frenchness and they thus played down the notion of a separate Jewish resistance.  Again, the 1970s and 1980s proved a watershed as historical focus shifted onto the Jewish contribution to the resistance.  Furthermore, the rise of the anti-Semitic Front National in French politics saw some Jewish French begin to tell their own story of how they had risked their lives for France.

The final section of Prof. Gildea’s paper concerned individual memory.  He explained that he is very interested in the use of oral history and testimonies from the past.  The use of these sources for studying the resistance went out of fashion during the 1970s and 1980s when historians privileged the ‘facts’ to be found in the archival records over supposedly unreliable personal stories and memory.  However, Prof. Gildea made a strong case for the use of testimony, stressing that testimony is a way for the individual to make sense of the past – if this changes over time it is because the individual is making sense of the past in a different context.  The paper ended with the fascinating stories of Lecompte-Boinet, Madelien Riffaud and Cécile Rol-Tanguy, and how each of them came to be involved in the resistance movements.

Overall, it was a fascinating paper, and it was great to see so many students in attendance.


Publication of ‘Crime Fiction in German’ volume, with open access chapter

An edited volume by CRAM member Katharina Hall is now out with the University of Wales Press. Crime Fiction in German: Der Krimi is part of the ‘European Crime Fictions’ series and is the first volume in English to offer a comprehensive overview of German-language crime fiction from its origins in the early nineteenth century to the present day.

An open access chapter on the history of the ‘Krimi’ is also available from Swansea University’s Cronfa research repository:



As well as introducing readers to crime fiction from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the former East Germany, Crime Fiction in German expands the notion of a German crime-writing tradition by investigating Nazi crime fiction, Jewish-German crime fiction, Turkish-German crime fiction and the Afrika-Krimi. Other key areas, including the West German social crime novel, women’s crime writing, regional crime fiction, historical crime fiction and the Fernsehkrimi (TV crime drama) are also explored, highlighting the genre’s distinctive features in German-language contexts.

The volume includes a map of German-speaking Europe, a chronology of crime publishing milestones, extracts from primary texts, and an annotated bibliography of print and online sources in English and German.

The contributors are Julia Augart (University of Namibia), Marieke Krajenbrink (University of Limerick), Katharina Hall (Swansea University), Martin Rosenstock (Gulf University, Kuwait), Faye Stewart (Georgia State University), Mary Tannert (editor and translator of Early German and Austrian Detective Fiction)

The open access chapter, ‘Crime Fiction in German: Concepts, Developments and Trends’, provides an overview of the volume and of German-language crime fiction. It forms part of the ‘Mrs. Peabody Investigates’ impact project, which disseminates research about international crime fiction beyond academia, and has been made possible by the generous support of Swansea University.

Please pass on the link to any interested colleagues, students or crime fans!



Some of the Krimis explored in the Crime Fiction in German volume









Dr. Katharina Hall is Associate Professor of German in the Department of Languages at Swansea University and runs the ‘Mrs. Peabody Investigates’ crime fiction blog. Her research focuses on the representation of National Socialism and its legacies in transnational crime fiction.

‘Mrs. Peabody Investigates’ blog: https://mrspeabodyinvestigates.wordpress.com/

Crime Fiction in German: http://www.uwp.co.uk/editions/9781783168170

CRAM seminar with Prof. Robert Gildea

Conflict, Reconstruction and Memory Research Group (CRAM) Research Seminar, Wednesday 16 March, 4.00 pm, Callaghan Lecture Theatre:

Prof. Robert Gildea, FBA (University of Oxford), ‘The French Resistance and Memory’.

Robert Gildea is Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford. He is a specialist in the history of France in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and has authored five ground-breaking works on modern French history and memory: Education in Provincial France (1983), The Past in French History (1994), Marianne in Chains (2002 – winner of the Wolfson Prize), Children of the Revolution (2008), and his recent Fighters in the Shadows (2015), a new look at resistance activity in wartime France. He also has a long-standing interest in oral history, and headed a major project on activism in the 1960s and 1970s in Europe that was published as Europe’s 1968: Voices of Revolt (2013).