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CFP : European Perspectives on Cultures of Violence

Call for Papers

European Perspectives on Cultures of Violence


The Centre for English Local History, University of Leicester,

27-28 June 2013


What can we learn from the way that violent behaviour is experienced and perceived in European culture? This interdisciplinary conference invites discussion over the nature of violence in differing times and places. The aim is to not only bring together historians of different periods, but also to promote dialogue across a range of disciplines concerned with the study of violence in the modern world. What can comparative historical studies add to these debates, and how can historians benefit from the work of criminologists, anthropologists and sociologists in return? How can the study of acts of violence, both past and present, challenge or support modern claims of humanity and progress? Can we account for the dramatic historical decline in homicide rates in some parts of the world, or their persistence in others? A lot of valuable work has examined how gender affects experience of violent crime, as both offender and victim. We will also consider the role of brutality in oppressive regimes or industrial systems, while the centralized containment of violence and ‘civilising processes’ are integral to narratives of modern state formation.


Shifting to local studies, new questions arise. What was the cultural significance of violence and the law in specific regions? Were these meanings specific to differing social groups and did they change across time? Was interpersonal violence necessarily incompatible with local perceptions of civilised behaviour? What can the study of these communities add to anthropological debates over relations between local cultures and systems of universal values? We want to encourage interaction and discussion of violence as a source of social and political power, and as an aspect of culturally relative interpersonal relations.


Confirmed speakers: Prof Andy Wood, Prof Peter King, Prof Patricia Skinner and Dr Joanne Bailey.


We welcome proposed papers that deal with one or more of the following issues:

·         domestic violence

·         gendered experience of violence

·         violence and the state

·         violence and ethnicity

·         geographies of homicide

·         comparative histories of criminal justice reform

·         public perceptions of violent crime and punishment

·         the emotions of violence

·         trauma and memories of violence and conflict

We hope that this call for papers will be answered both by historians but also by researchers in other disciplines who deal with these questions. Although our main focus will be Europe, papers presenting comparative studies from other regions are also sought.

Proposals for papers of approximately 300 words should be sent to  before 30 March 2013, accompanied by short biographical details.