Please note that this module was available
from 2005 to 2006, but has since been
withdrawn and is no longer available.
Tutor: Dr Patrick Major
War is a persistent and recurrent tragedy of human history. This undergraduate first-year and second-year option module takes a thematic and comparative view of the nature of war and its effects. It is not a study of weapons and tactics, but of the ways in which conflict has shaped and impacted upon humanity. Indeed, the module rejects a purely Eurocentric focus and takes a broad global perspective. It also tries to place technology in its proper context, and demonstrates the importance of culture in war.
This module is therefore concerned with the structures of war: issues of legality, mobilisation and recruitment, total war, the media and war, the ‘sinews [economics] of war’, the modalities of war, insurgency and guerrilla war. It is also concerned with the human and cultural dimensions of war: the social history of soldiers, militarism, enlistment and conscription, war leadership, collaboration and resistance, opposition to war, the memorialisation of war, identity and war, civilians - as refugees or participants, atrocities, casualties, and combat.
The module embraces a global perspective and takes a critical look at Eurocentric and Western hegemonic interpretations of war and military history. The course therefore does not follow a slavish narrative of battles and campaigns but highlights episodes and issues thematically. Consequently, there is a study across the twentieth century, with colonial wars (such the South African War, 1899-1902, punitive campaigns in West Africa and Tibet), the First World War (including its so-called ‘sideshows’), the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Malayan Emergency, the Mau Mau Emergency, the Cold War, the Gulf War, ‘9/11’ and coalition operations since 2001.
There is scope for students to pursue in more depth an interest in other conflicts, the Russo-Japanese War(1904-5), the Third Afghan War (1919), the Conquest of Abyssinia (1935), the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), the decolonisation of Algeria and other states, Kashmir, the Bangladeshi War of Independence (1971), conflicts in central America, the Rhodesian War and other African conflicts including Angola, Zaire and Sudan (Darfur), the Falklands War (1982), the Soviet War in Afghanistan and the Civil War (1979-2001), the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, American-led Expeditionary Wars in Grenada, the Gulf, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.