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Conference about the global dimensions of the First World War

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Conference about the global dimensions of the First World War
by Tourková Kateřina - Pátek, 25 duben 2014, 9:30

Call for Papers

Bellicose Entanglements 1914: The Great War as a Global War

The State of Peace Conference 2014                                                                                  

September 30 - October 3, 2014

Abstract submission deadline: June 8, 2014

Hosted at the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Schlaining Peace Castle.

On June 28 in 1914, Gavrilo Princip killed the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife during their visit to Sarajevo.  Meant as a symbolic act in support of the creation of a Yugoslavian nation, the assassination triggered lethal dynamics which affected all continents of the globe in the end.  Austria-Hungary’s war of retaliation against Serbia was expected to be over in a matter of weeks. However, the global entanglements of an already highly globalized world witnessed the emergence of what British historian Eric Hobsbawm called the age of catastrophe.

Within just a few days, the war had spread so widely that it became known as the Great War.  Yet still we are not fully aware of its global reach beyond Europe and Northern America: The First World War is still narrated as a primarily European war. Furthermore, this war triggered the transition to a new era: In 1914, soldiers went to war on horseback wearing a feather-helmet; some months later, soldiers in steel helmets rode heavy war tanks.  Modern war machinery and new war strategies raised the death toll to unexpected catastrophic heights: 17 million people were killed on European battlefields and beyond – including Europeans, Africans, Asians, Australians and Americans. The new borders which were created by the allied victors in 1919 disintegrated huge empires like the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the German and the Ottoman Empire.  Thus, foundations were laid for another great war in 1939 continuing with several other conflicts around the globe throughout the 20th century, up to 2014.

On the occasion of the 100 year anniversary of the Great War, we invite scholars from various academic disciplines to discuss the global entanglements of the early 20th century which surrounded the First World War and continues to influence the world today. The structure as well as the final panel topics of the conference will be determined on the basis of the accepted abstracts by mid-June. As a preliminary structure, the organisers propose the following panel topics:

- Global dimensions before, during, and after 1914/1918

To what extent was this war a World War?  In what respects can it be seen as a European War that could only be fought because of non-European participation?  After all, various European States and Empires involved their colonies in the warfare.  Thus, Africans, Asians and Australians had to fight for the European empires on European soil.  At the same time, non-European actors pursued independent interests of their own by involving themselves.  To what extent were they forced to join the battles against their will?

- West/East/North/South: different perspectives on the Great War

The way the First World War was perceived in Germany and Austria contributed greatly to the Second World War. As one consequence, in Germany and Austria the First World War is overshadowed by the massacres of the Hitler regime and therefore not as present in public debates as it is in for example in Great Britain. In Austria, Gavrilo Princip is perceived as the man who triggered the First World War and the disintegration of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, whereas in the former Yugoslavia he is partly remembered as a national hero. In the Middle East, warfare during the First World War was a tool for colonial ambitions of European empires. This panel wants to explicitly spot non-European perspectives and narratives and put them in contrast with European interpretations of the war.

- Early 20th century’s global entanglements

The years before the outbreak of the Great War were widely perceived as an era of constant economic, social, and cultural progress. At the same time, the world was highly globalised due to modern communication and transportation. Those global entanglements played a crucial role in triggering and fighting the war. Furthermore, pacts of mutual assistance and diplomatic relations explain global involvement of warfare at the diplomatic level. This panel intends to compare the state of the world in 1914 to the state of the world in 2014 regarding its various global entanglements and their role in conflict and war. What can this comparison tell us about the state of peace in 2014?

- Anti-war activities, ideologies, movements and civil society

In the same way that diplomacy, politics, and war were internationally interconnected, so were anti-war movements. Especially during armament activities prior to 1914 which saw individuals and groups raise their voices against coming war. At the same time, the Socialist International movement which had opposed war as a capitalist means, disintegrated when the war began and the national branches adopted their national governments’ positions. To what extent could international civic engagement then and now contribute to resolving conflicts in a peaceful way, and what are the obstacles to such activities?

In the end, it was ordinary men who left their homes in order to fight other ordinary men, husbands and fathers from enemy countries on the battlefields. Consequently, war could not have been waged without the support of civil society, of groups and individuals that shared nationalist ideologies which fuelled the war. In which ways did different parts of civil society support the war? How was the war legitimised? When did it succeed and in which instances did it fail, and why?


The State of Peace Conference is organised by the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution in cooperation with its partner institutions from the Conflict, Peace and Democracy Cluster (CPDC): the Centre for Peace Research and Peace Education (ZFF) at the University of Klagenfurt, the Centre of Conflict Research (IKF) as well as the Democracy Centre Vienna.

At the conference, each accepted paper will not be presented by its author, but by a ”counter-reader“, who will be appointed in advance. In return, the counter-reader’s paper will be presented by the person whose paper he or she presented. In a statement of approximately 15 minutes showing critical solidarity, the counter-reader will discuss the main questions, approach, realization and specific issues of the paper. The paper’s author will be given 10 minutes at the end of each session to respond to the counter-reader’s and the audience’s comments. The aim is to contribute to the depth of the argument and the paper’s core ideas which shall be published in an edited volume. 


We invite you to submit your abstract of max. 500 words as well as a short biographical note before June 8, 2014. We will make a decision regarding acceptance of papers by the end of June. Full papers of accepted proposals must then be submitted by September 15th. If your paper was accepted, we will cover your travel expenses to Stadtschlaining and as well as full board accommodation for the duration of your stay.

Please send your abstract to