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A Violent World? Changes and Limits to Large-Scale Violence in Early Modernity

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Mughal campaign in Gujurat 1535

This international conference will be held on 29 June - 1 July 2017 at All Souls College, Oxford. The conference brings global approaches to the history of violence, reassessing the nature of violence during the early modern period. Using violence and the restraint of violence as a unifying theme, participants are encouraged to make trans-national comparisons and connections across the early modern world. 

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Course Dates

29th June 2017 – 1st July 2017

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Course Description

The history of violence and its restraint has been crucial to definitions of ‘Western civilization’ and the modern world, often by contrasting them with barbaric predecessors and the cultures that they claim to have tamed. Yet, evidence for the restraint of violence varies according to one’s viewpoint: the sharp decline of homicide in seventeenth-century Europe, for example, diverges from the simultaneous rise in violence of Atlantic colonial societies. As histories of violence and restraint are usually written from national and nationalist perspectives, this conference brings global approaches to the study of violence in order to probe historical assumptions about the limits of violence and its decline during the early modern period. It thereby also questions narratives of the inexorable rise of the nation-state alongside historical periodization of the ‘early modern’ and ‘modern.’

Recent historical approaches to violence, shaped by the cultural turn, have tended to focus on inter-personal violence and its patterns in civil society. This conference will integrate warfare and other crucial forms of large-scale violence with recent scholarship on the history of collective and inter-individual violence. By examining large-scale, organized violence alongside broader social and cultural patterns, this conference will explore the boundaries between ‘war’ and ‘violence’, as well as how they relate to ideas of morality, social order, law, and political legitimacy in the early modern world. We encourage scholars to address contemporary perceptions of violence and its restraint, framing analysis through thematic, rather than geographic, approaches.

Confirmed speakers include: Wayne Lee, Anthony McFarlane, Stuart Carroll, Pratyay Nath, Brian Sandberg, Cécile Vidal, Lauren Benton, Adam Clulow, Richard Reid, and James Belich.

For further information about the conference and a complete programme of sessions, go to: http://global.history.ox.ac.uk/?page_id=2395

Peter H. Wilson, Chichele Professor of the History of War, University of Oxford
Marie Houllemare, Institut Universitaire de France, Université d’Amiens (CHSSC)
Erica Charters, Oxford Centre for Global History Centre, University of Oxford

Conference registration includes entry to conference sessions, tea/coffee each day, lunch on 30 June and 1 July, and a drinks reception on 29 June. The registration fee is £36 per person.

There is an optional conference dinner which will be held at All Souls College on 30 June; this will be a formal college dinner, for which there is an additional charge of £50 (see 'Extras').