appel à contribution : Children and War, Mainz(Mayence), 23-24 mars 2015

Argumentaire :  

The topic “wartime children” has recently received a lot of attention, resulting for example in a number of publications and various exhibitions. This boom has been primarily connected to research on the two World Wars. Particularly childhood and children in and just after World War II and the representation of their fate and situation in popular science publications have met with a lot of interest. More recently, children’s experiences and realities between 1914 and 1918 have also been at the center of attention. Only little research has been done on “wartime children” for periods outside the 20th century, however. Hardly any investigation has been made spanning eras and centuries. Neither historical similarities of or differences between wartime childhood experiences, nor their continuities or processes of change have been the focus of thorough research: the idea that 20th century developments took a special turn has been claimed rather than proven.


Thématiques :

The conference will address these aspects and look at “children in war times”, from ancient history up until modern times from social and cultural historical perspectives. We welcome papers with a microhistorical approach as well as regional, national and transnational investigations, and from global perspectives. The following areas of attention will be of particular importance and relevance:

1. Historical Sources and Methods: What possibilities are available to the conduction of research on “wartime children” in various historical times and geographical regions? Which terminological difficulties need to be addressed and overcome? Which kinds of sources exist, and are they readily available for academic research? Are these sources informative and telling, or do they conceal more than they reveal? Does historical research meet with specific taboos, marginalization, emotional colouring or enhancement? Which methodological means can be found for the reconstruction of “wartime childhoods”? Where do historians meet their limits?

2. Education and Upbringing: To what degree was war a determining factor in the design of education and upbringing already during peace times? Which role did war fulfill in the construction of gender and identity? How did education and upbringing work during times of war? Can we find differences between a “normal” upbringing and wartime education, at all? Did changing concepts of “childhood” have any influence?

3. Everyday life: How did children experience war? Are there discernible differences with regard to age, geographical area, religion or gender? How, and why, did society’s view of “family” change, and did this affect families’ self-perception? How did this influence the relationships between parents and children? What was the fate of orphans created through war?

4. Propaganda: Did children matter in mental warfare, and how? Were they the means and/or the object of propaganda? Which role in propaganda were they assigned with, and why? Who were the producers of this propaganda, and who were the addressees and consumers? Did children communicate propaganda themselves, and how? Which effects did propaganda have on children?

5. Child Soldiers: To what degree were children actively involved in war-related events? How were they mobilized? At what times, and for what reasons were children consciously or unconsciously included in acts of war? How did they experience wartime violence? Did non-compliance and opposition play any role at all, and what kind of role? How did children face the confrontation and experience of death, and how did society deal with wartime death of children?

6. Imprinting and character formation: What happened with wartime children after the termination of war? Which influences in medical, psychological, political, social and cultural fields can be attributed to wartime experiences of children?


The conference will be held in the Academy of the Bishop in Mainz, Germany (Akademie des Bistums Mainz) on March 23rd and 24th, 2015. Proposals are invited and can be submitted by e-mail as abstract of the intended talk, with a maximum of 500 words, including a brief academic CV. Submission deadline is November 30th, 2014. Abstracts will be received by: 

Notification of acceptance will be sent out by December 31, 2014. We are currently looking for funding of trainfare (2nd class, or, under special circumstances, flight costs in Economy Class) and hotel costs. Publication of the proceedings is intended.

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