5 February 2014

On February 13th 2014, the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide studies organizes a workshop on ‘War expectations’ at the NIAS in Wassenaar. This workshop will function as a first step in the establishing of an international network and the formation of a NIOD based research project on ‘war expectations’, a multi-disciplined approach on the cultural dynamics behind war and violence in twentieth century Europe.

Commemoration First World War

In the workshop, NIOD hopes to deepen the understanding of the dynamics of war expectations, and their effects on society and political decision making. Participants from various disciplines (historians, art scholars, literary scholars, experts on terrorism, Cold War experts and journalists) will shed a light on different questions. How do cultural notions on war come to the fore in a society and how do they take shape in various contexts? How do cultural notions on war come to the fore in a society and how do they take shape in various contexts, like within the political sphere, the media, business world? Can we detect any transfers, overlap or on the contrary opposing war expectations within the different layers of society? What response towards the threat of war is propagated in public or deemed right in diaries? Is war considered to offer new opportunities or is it feared? Can the change in war imaginings serve as an explanation for political decision making? Can military policy during the Cold War and the ‘War on Terror’ (partly) be understood through the impact of the Second World War? How has the memory of WWII functioned in the legitimizing of following wars?

The first part of the workshop will focus on the First World War, since it brought such an important shift in the thinking about war and the expectations of how the next one would be. There will be presentations of Mark Antliff and co-organizer Ewoud Kieft, on the war enthusiasm among artists and intellectuals in 1914. Frans Ruiter and Wilbert Smulders will talk about the conventions in the narratives of the classic war literature from the 1920’s on and the representational problems of war narratives as such. And military historian Wim Klinkert will inform us on the military aspects of war expectations: how did they influence military decision-making?

In the second part of the workshop participants discuss how the dynamics of war expectations evolved after the First World War. Jay Winters keynote will reflect on the continued effects of war imaginings, Bob de Graaff will inform us about the war on terror, journalist Hans Jaap Melissen will talk about the Arab Spring and Syria and finally author Arnon Grunberg will speak about how the war myths that grew out of the Second World War still function today: mostly to disguise hard realities about war and human nature.

This workshop is by invitation only.