Stages of War

Academic and Popular Representations of Large-Scale Conflicts

26-27 March 2020
Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The conference ‘The Stage of War’ focuses on academic and popular representations of war and other large-scale conflicts. Nowadays, the cultural engagement with the history of violent conflicts spans a multitude of academic and above all popular genres, including (graphic) novels, films, tourism, musicals, games, exhibitions and re-enactments. Producers of popular genres try to bring the past closer to the public through interaction, performance and multi- sensory experience, often to the discontent of academic historians who fear for a distorted or trivialized past. Nonetheless, research indicates that these popular genres can significantly affect and enhance our understanding of the past.

The unique aim of this conference is to stimulate an exchange between academic and popular approaches to the representation of violent conflicts. Instead of just criticizing popular historical culture, we call on academic historians to suggest what a responsible approach to the past might entail. Simultaneously, we ask producers to clarify what the practical and ethical limitations and opportunities are of representing violent pasts in contemporary society. How can we learn from each other? To what extent can critical historical thinking be stimulated through popular productions? This two-day conference is comprised of academic lectures, presentations, roundtable discussions, and a battlefield tour in Rotterdam by military history specialists.

  •   Historians, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists
  •   PhD and ReMa students
  •   Military specialists
  •   Memory / heritage specialists
  •   Popular culture specialists
  •   Tourism professionals

Target groups

 Producers of historical musicals, films, video games, exhibitions, websites
 Script writers, curators, game developers, graphic novel authors
 Trainers, heritage educators, history teachers

Thematic scope

Contributors are invited to submit papers on topics as

  •   Diversification of war experiences
  •   Embodiment and bodily understanding
  •   The commercialization of war heritage
  •   Creating immediacy, direct contact with the past
  •  Battlefield representations for education, tourism and military training
  •  Representing and experiencing authenticity
  •  Marginal perspectives / multiperspectivity
  •  Commemoration and reenactments

Please send abstracts of max. 300 words and a short biographical statement of max. 50 words to before 1 October 2019. All abstracts will be reviewed. Notification of acceptance: 1 December 2019.

Location and organization

The venue of this conference will be campus Woudestein Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The conference is an outcome of the Research Excellence Initiative ‘War! Popular Culture and European Heritage of Major Armed Conflicts’, directed by prof.dr. Maria Grever and prof.dr. Stijn Reijnders at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC). See also


Our organisation committee consists of Prof.dr. Maria Grever, Prof.dr. Stijn Reijnders, Prof.dr. Jeroen Jansz, Prof.dr. Kees Ribbens, dr. Susan Hogervorst, Siri Driessen, Pieter van den Heede, dr. Laurie Slegtenhorst, Lise Zurné, dr. Robbert-Jan Adriaansen and Prof.dr. Franciska de Jong.