Call for Papers: Historical Sociologies of War and Violence

Workshop at University of Sussex – Autumn 2016

BISA Historical Sociology and International Relations Working Group

Historical sociology has long been linked with a ‘bellicist’ tradition in social theory, especially in its neo-Weberian mode. Its initial adoption by International Relations scholars was partially due to the attention paid by scholars such as Giddens, Mann, Tilly and Skocpol to the international as a realm of geopolitical competition, and its concurrent effects on and interactions with states and societies. The focus on war as part of the process of state-building became entrenched in the IR literature (if not a dominant mode of thinking about war). Furthermore, Mann and Shaw have both produced rich accounts of the role of militarism in the constitution of modern societies.

However, as neo-Weberian forms of historical sociology became subject to increased scrutiny for their relatively narrow account of the international, the focus on war was less pronounced within historical sociological accounts of IR. Despite playing a role in sociologies of collective action such as Tilly’s, the historical sociological scholarship in IR has moved increasingly away from an account of historicised dynamics of war and society. As such, a reintegration of these concerns is a potential area of renewal within the historical sociology of IR. The study of the micro-dynamics of war and its cultural and social contexts have increased in the field, but there has been less reflection on its historicity and interrelations with other dimensions of the international such as political economy and diplomacy.

The proposed workshop seeks to reconnect the sociology of war with its history, drawing on newer sociologies of war, but also seeking to revisit and rethink the links with past scholarship. The workshop invites contributions from any theoretical perspective within the broad remit of historical sociology looking at various dimensions of war and violence: practices, structures, organization and lineages.

Possible paper topics include:

  • Revisions or critiques of standard historical sociological models of war/state-making
  • Application of historical sociology to war/state-making in novel forms
  • The application of war/state-building models to more recent cases
  • Non-statist historical sociologies of violence
  • Historical sociological treatments of war and violence as rivals for mainstream explanations (e.g. in political science)
  • Historical sociology and technologies of war: battle-spaces; high-tech war; insurgency and counter-insurgency; revolution and revolutionary war

The workshop is sponsored by the BISA Historical Sociology and International Relations Working Group: http://historical-sociology.org/. Thanks to funding from BISA, the workshop is free and catering will be provided (spaces will be limited). Both paper givers and research students will also receive a limited travel allowance.

The workshop will be held at the University of Sussex in late-Autumn 2016.

Those interested in presenting papers at the workshop should send brief abstracts (no more than 200 words) to Bryan Mabee (b.mabee@qmul.ac.uk) and Kamran Matin (k.matin@sussex.ac.uk). The deadline for paper proposals is: September 1, 2016.