Experiences of War

Conventional military history has inevitably tended to focus almost exclusively on the experiences of those engaged in the planning and execution of the fighting with occasional forays into the higher reaches of the political domain.

Photograph of marching female soldiers

Only relatively recently have scholars added the dimension of non-combatants both by studying their perspective on warfare and the impact of conflicts on non-combatants.

This shift in focus reflects, among others, the changing nature of warfare in the 20th century which has not only seen increasingly large numbers of civilian casualties, but has also witnessed wars deliberately being fought in disregard of the laws of war which had previously, to some extent, safeguarded non-combatants.

This growing area of research has huge potential for social, cultural and economic historians with possible study areas including the impact of conscription and national service on the domestic life of those left at home through to the devastation wrought on society by civil wars. Beyond the study of war itself, questions of the consequences of war, including the impact of war and civil war on different sections of society, provide a further possible study area.

Colleagues at Birmingham have actively engaged in research of one specific group of civilians affected by war and conflict, namely the Children Born of War, children fathered by foreign soldiers and born to local mothers.