Call for Papers: Neutrals at war, 1914-1918. Comparative and transnational perspectives

Royal Netherlands Historical Society (KNHG) 2015 Annual Conference organised jointly with ACCESS/EUROPE and the Department Art & Culture, History, Antiquity of the Free University of Amsterdam – Amsterdam, 20 November 2015

The Great War (1914-1918) was the first world war. Although not all parts of the globe were affected in the same way, at the same time or with the same intensity, the global scale with which the First World War was waged is of paramount importance in our current understanding of the conflict. However, narratives of the war have been focused on the history of those who were official belligerents in the conflict, routinely neglecting those who remained neutral.

Meanwhile, histories of various European neutral countries, such as Switzerland, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands, during the period of Great War provide ample evidence that global industrialised warfare had serious repercussions for those neutrals located geographically close to the fronts. Moreover, these histories have shown that neutrals were active participants in the war. They were engaged in diverse areas such as economics and science, culture and humanitarian relief.

Vlissingen vliegtuig 2
In order to write a truly global history of the war neutrals and neutrality must be reintegrated. Yet, neither the histories of belligerence nor those of neutrality offer an exhaustive comparative perspective, which is a crucial first step for such a reintegration. Even more importantly, existing studies tell us very little about the war history of neutrality as the key issue. How was neutrality understood in the ever changing context of the First World War, and how did those understandings translate into actions?

Neutrals at war, 1914-1918 will be explicitly comparative and transnational in nature. We aim to highlight key differences in the various approaches to neutrality, and the transnational nature of the discourses that interacted with these national approaches. Our aim is to reflect on current research, but also to develop a new framework for neutrality studies in the context of global warfare.

The conference committee invites proposals for individual papers. Each participant is scheduled to speak for 20 minutes. Papers that seek to draw comparisons between one or more countries, open up new vistas for original research or have an explicitly transnational focus, are particularly encouraged. Moreover, we explicitly invite participants to reflect upon both current practices and future directions. Additionally, we will ask participants to engage in critical debate in order to jointly formulate a new agenda for research.

Abstracts of up to 300 words, which should clearly indicate how the proposed paper addresses the conference aims outlined above, should be submitted to the programme committee ( before 15 June 2015. Please include a one page academic CV. We will notify you if your abstract has been accepted before 1 July. In that case, you will be asked to submit a full paper (5,000 words, including references) before 15 October 2015.

A selection of the papers will be offered for publication in an English-language special issue of BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review, published as an open-access, peer-reviewed journal by the Royal Netherlands Historical Society. It has the INT1 ranking (previously known as A-status) from the European Science Foundation, and is indexed by Thomson Reuters for inclusion in its annual Journal Citation Reports®.

Conference committee:

Dr Leonie de Goei, Royal Netherlands Historical Society
Prof Dr Wim Klinkert, University of Amsterdam / Netherlands Defence Academy
Dr Samuël Kruizinga, University of Amsterdam
Prof Dr Henk te Velde, Leiden University
Prof Dr Michael Wintle, University of Amsterdam / ACCESS Europe