CFP: Objects in and after hostilities: The material culture of conflict

This is a two day conference to be held at Newcastle and Northumbria Universities (30-31 March 2017) which will explore the relationship between conflict and materiality. We are pleased to welcome Professor Nicholas Saunders (University of Bristol) and Dr Julie Gottlieb (University of Sheffield) as our keynote speakers. We will also be welcoming Alison Bailey (British Library) who will deliver a short talk.

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Conflict and materiality are inherently linked. Be it the equipment of war (weapons, uniforms, even mess canteens) or its aftermath (memorials, grave markers, the empty chair), conflict involves objects. From the front line to the home front, the plight of the displaced and the bereaved, objects connect us to the sensory and emotional experiences of war. Yet these items, and the memories they evoke, are human constructs, and their production, survival and status stem from a multiplicity of motivations, not least political and consolatory.

This conference aims to explore the history of conflict through its material culture. It will discuss how objects are used to remember conflict and how narratives of war are formed through these items. Should the ‘objectivity’ of objects be interrogated more closely? What drives our attachment to objects? Can conflict be provoked by objects deliberately or subliminally imbued with memory and significance or, conversely, resisted by the dynamics of gifts or tribute? Conflict embraces world wars, and regional or local clashes. It might also encompass the antagonisms of social and cultural struggle or civil strife, such as the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 or the Battle of Orgreave during the 1984 Miners’ Strike. Its material culture is also nested in the transitions between peace and war and conflict between or within classes, families and institutions.

The conference will cover materiality in all its diversity, looking at objects with military, political, social and cultural provenances, and their multi-vocality within the various constituencies affected by conflict.

We invite proposals of 250 words for papers of 20 minutes from researchers in any discipline. Please send an abstract, title and a short biography. Alongside academic papers, we are also encouraging poster applications. Please send a title, a 200 word description of the poster and a short bio. All applications to by 16 January 2017.

We particularly welcome submissions from postgraduate students, early career and independent researchers.

Bursaries: We have a number of travel bursaries available – kindly supported by the RHS. More information on how to apply will be available on our website in due course.

Organisers: Andrew Marriott (Newcastle University), Guy Hinton (Newcastle University), Ann-Marie Foster (Northumbria University), Rowan Thompson (Northumbria University)

For more information e-mail us at or tweet us @Objects2017