'Rows of women sit at benches as they arrange fuse heads in one of 'England's great gun factories', possibly Coventry Ordnance Works', courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, © IWM, Q 30136

Conference: 'Living War; Thinking Peace: Women's experiences, feminist thought and international relations', Venice, 2014

Posted on centenarynews.com on 17 December 2013
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The online journal DEP: Deportees, Exiles, Refugees is organising an international conference on women during the First World War.

DEP is a journal dedicated to women's history and was established in 2004 at the University of Venice, where the conference will be held on the 27th - 28th November 2014.

A call for papers for the conference entitled Living War; Thinking Peace (1914-1921): Women's experiences, feminist thought and international relations, has also been made.

The conference will be divided into two main sections:

1. Living war/thinking/seeking peace

2. Thinking/acting for peace. The feminist approach to relations among nations and the experiences of aid and solidarity.

Living war/thinking/seeking peace

This section will explore the different experiences of war for women through three main themes:

I. Women, war and the struggle with change

The impact of social and economic changes the conflict brought women and the "struggle" to adapt to them will be considered.

Suggested research areas include: care within the family; the conflicts, ambiguities and contradictions involved in women’s work outside the home; the way women “interpreted” and experienced the war: practices, skills and behaviours generated during the war; social relations within the community: solidarity, disputes, deployment and isolation; demobilisation and return to peacetime; November 1918: the “return” of men / the “return” of women.

II. Women and violence

Women both experienced and mediated wartime violence.

The conference invites research into different mediums of violence, including deportation, interment, occupation, bombings, displacement, poverty and prostitution.

In particular, research into the topics of hunger and food shortages is invited.

Papers being submitted may consider both individual and collective responses to dealing with these different types of violence.

III. Voices/words of suffering, love and peace

Unpublished memoirs, letters and diaries often provide insight into how women experienced the First World War.

The conference invites researchers to consider how the conflict was expressed through such personal writings and how it dealt with issues such as the prolonged absences of sons and husbands, the search for affection and the "regeneration" of married life, as well as ideas of hope for peace and changes in social structure.

Thinking/acting for peace. The feminist approach to relations among nations and the experiences of aid and solidarity

This section of the conference aims to explore the themes of feminist and pacifist thought concerning international relations; relations among nations; the concept of non-violent strategies; and practices adopted in order to make a peaceful solution to the First World War a prospect.

Analysis of the the role of women's suffrage in calling for peace is invited, particularly in terms of the opening of the International Women’s Congress that opened at The Hague on the 28th April 1915.

The results of the Congress, especially the proposal to work towards a mediated solution to the war without "winners" or "losers", could be considered by researchers in terms of the influence of pacifist and feminist principles set out by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

The work of women for war victims is another area the conference hopes to address. Exploration of the topic may include: the condemnation of the nature of the war, criticism of nationalism, the principle of non-violence and the affirmation of women’s responsibility in international issues.

"Important examples" cited by the conference organisers include: the action of women in the Emergency Committee for the Assistance of Germans, Austrians and Hungarians in Distress; in the Auskunft-und Hilfsstelle für Deutsche im Ausland und Ausländer in Deutschland; in the Friends’ War Victims Relief Committee; and in Save the Children.

Further Information

Conference languages: English and Italian

Proposals: Maximum 2000 character proposals must include a provisional title; a description of the topic; a list of sources; a short CV and contact details.

They should be sent to bbianchi@unive.it by the 28th February 2014 and will be processed by 31st March 2014.

Source: University of Venice website

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News