To coincide with the centenary of the end of the First World War, Canadian and international scholars will gather this week to explore ideas of desertion, pacifism and non-violence.
A conference, Refusing to Fight: Reimagining War in Global Perspectives, as well as two public lectures, will be held at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) in downtown St. Catharines from Thursday, Oct. 11 to Saturday, Oct. 13.
Representing fields including political science, classics, religious studies and history, scholars will discuss issues as diverse as the First World War in Canada, the Chinese Han dynasty, European crusaders and Mennonite sects of early modern Europe.
The conference is organized by Colin Rose, Assistant Professor in the Department of History, and Elizabeth Vlossak, Associate Professor of History and MIWSFPA Director.
“The idea for the conference came about during discussions of the centennial anniversary of the First World War and the valorization of Canadian soldiers during that period,” says Rose.
“We wanted to complicate that historiography to emphasize that not only did soldiers experience war in many different ways, but also that many men and women throughout history have actively avoided fighting in wars for a variety of reasons.”
Brock is an ideal location for this conference, as war and pacifism are both integral to Niagara’s local heritage.
“The Niagara region is steeped in the mythos of military history dating back to the War of 1812 and further,” says Rose.
“The region has seen has seen military deserters move through it beginning with the United Empire Loyalists of the American Revolutionary War.”
As part of the conference, the Centre for Canadian Studies is supporting two public keynote lectures on Canadian topics.
The first features Jonathan Vance, Distinguished University Professor of History at Western University, who will present To Fight or Not to Fight: Reflections on Objectors and Dissenters on Thursday, Oct. 11 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Vance is a pre-eminent historian on Canada and the First World War, and is well known for his award-winning book Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War. His current research includes the First World War, Canadian culture and prisoners of war.
The second lecture, War Resistance in Canadian History, will be delivered by Lara Campbell, Professor with the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University, on Friday, Oct. 12 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Campbell’s current research is on the transnational and gendered politics of antiwar movements in North America. She is also co-chair of the Canadian Committee on Women’s History and has had her work recognized by the Canadian Historical Association and the Canadian Women’s Studies Association.
Held at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines, both lectures are free and open to the public.