This is a blog recording the announcements that are sent out on the CASCA listserv.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Harvard graduate student conference on soldiering


Soldiering: The Afterlife of a Modern Experience

The Annual Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Student Conference

The Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University, April 22-23, 2011

Soldiering has long been considered a central organizing experience of
modern life. With the invention of conscription in the 1680s, the consequent
multiplication of national standing-armies, and the coupling of soldiering
with citizenship, the individual and aristocratic warrior was replaced by
the democratic and collective figure of "the soldier of the revolution." His
body no longer marked by the natural signs of strength, courage and pride,
the soldier had become, by the late eighteenth century, something that can
be made. Disciplined en masse through standardized military programs that
mimicked the constancy of the factory, soldiers were not only manufactured;
for two centuries they themselves embodied the labor power envisioned in
manufacturing new political orders at home and across the vast imperial
landscape. The two world wars, quintessential displays of modern soldiering,
were arguably also the last of their kind, and marked both the culmination
and the end of soldiering as a near universal experience, social
institution, and political subjectivity.

Juxtaposed with and against these historical prefigurations, this two-day
conference wishes to examine the gradual disintegration of the
Soldier-Subject in the postwar period and the 'afterlife' forms of modern
soldiering, from the early days of the Cold War to the current
manifestations of the 'Global War on Terror'. What happens to soldiering
when armies are privatized and corporations take over the state's "dirty
business of war"? When "irregular," "asymmetric," "low-intensity" warfare is
the order of the day? When the once politically significant distinction
between soldier and civilian is destabilized in the now prevalent theaters
of "ethnic conflict"? When technical experts become soldiers and human
soldiers are gradually replaced by technological systems, such as unmanned
drones and armed robots? How have these contemporary forms of soldiering
influenced social, economic and political realities? And how do they
contribute to the increased ethical isolation of war and conflict?

We seek rich, rigorous graduate student contributions from across the
academic spectrum and across historical periods. Through soldiering, this
conference aims to provide a locus for rewriting conventional military and
political histories, revisiting anthropological accounts of violence and the
state, and expanding the definition of warfare – both temporally and
spatially. Themes may include:

· From "Cannon Fodder" to "Enhanced Survivability": The Birth
of the Vulnerable Soldier

· 'Shell-Shock,' PTSD and Mental Preparedness: Trauma Culture
and Its Aftermath

· Army Alpha, Army Beta: Screening, Selection, and the Making
of Military Kinds

· From Ethical Lapses to Professional Failings: Soldiering as a

· Enlightened Occupiers: From 'Hearts and Minds' to the Human
Terrain Teams

· Armies for Hire: Privatized Defense and Corporate Warfare

· 'Accidental Guerillas,' Child-Soldiers, and Other

· International Soldiers: Military Humanitarianism, Peace
Corps, and Human Rights Training

· Identity Politics Goes to War: From 'Blue Discharge' to
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and Beyond

· The Soldier as Signifier

· Reorganizing the Military-Industrial Complex: New Media and
Warfare Simulation

The conference's keynote speaker will be *Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi*, an
independent scholar, author of *The Worlds of Herman Kahn: the Intuitive
Science of Thermonuclear War* (Harvard University Press, 2005), and a
specialist on the cultural history of American Cold War military science and

Prospective participants are asked to write *a 500 word abstract* that
outlines the paper's topic, methodology, and argument, as well as how the
prospective participant's research interests relate to the theme of
soldiering more generally. Participants will be notified by early March
whether their paper has been accepted into the conference. Please note that
*participants may be eligible to receive full or partial stipends for
transportation to the conference*.

*Abstract Submission Deadline: February 15, 2011*

Please upload your abstracts and proposals *on the conference website*

by following instructions under the "Submissions" tab.

Please make sure to include the following information: full name,
institutional affiliation, the title of your paper, and contact details.

If you have any questions, please contact any of the organizers:

Tal Arbel, History of Science

Melissa Lo, History of Science

Oded Na'aman, Philosophy

Sabrina Peric, Anthropology

***Please note, we are providing full or partial travel stipends for
graduate students, as well as boarding with Harvard graduate students for
the duration of the conference.***

Casca News

This blog mirrors the list-serv for the Canadian Anthropology Society. To submit an announcement to this list, please email:

Blog Archive