If the War Comes

Marc Hansen
Mittwoch, 27. Mai 2020 bis Freitag, 29. Mai 2020
Rebild, Dänemark
Montag, 27. Januar 2020

"If the war comes" (‘Hvis krigen kommer’) was the title of a pamphlet distributed by the Danish Prime Minister’s office to every single household in Denmark in January 1962, instructing the citizens of Denmark about how to prepare for and act during a possible nuclear attack. It is also the title of a joint research project between Aalborg University, North Jutland Historical Museum, Cold War Museum Langeland and Museum Stevnsfortet funded by the Velux foundation and the Ministry of Culture, Denmark (Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen).

"If the war comes" researches the history of Danish nuclear culture, including civil defense in Denmark, and not least the history behind the building of REGAN Vest. The construction of the government bunker REGAN Vest was completed in 1968 and until the end of the Cold War REAGAN Vest served as the main shelter for the Danish government and the Royal Family in case of a nuclear war. Preparations to fight a nuclear war, including civil defense measures, had a material side, and some of the facilities are in the process of becoming part of danish national, cultural heritages. This of course raises salient questions about how to exhibit a war that luckily never took place and therefore only was an imagined war.

During the last 5 – 10 years we have seen a growing interest in researching different national nuclear cultures and the cultural history of the atomic age. The atomic age created fear as well as golden hopes of harnessing the powers of the atoms and thus gain access to abundant and cheap power. Fascination and fear was an underlying component in all the imaginations of the potentials as well as the perils of the atomic age. Although the conference focuses on cold war civil defense and civil society, civil defense and public reactions cannot be understood without including the broader picture of imaginations of the atomic age, and the conference aims to discuss how best to research the material side as well as the mentalities and imaginations of nuclear war and citizenship.

The organisers invite colleagues who share an interest in civil defense and the cultural history of the atomic age to contribute to and participate in this international workshop.
The organisers welcome papers that explores
- Public interaction with the state regarding civil defense and the threat of nuclear war. Public interaction spans uniformed service as well as peace activism and other civil society activities, and may have a national as well as a transnational or international perspective.
- Government and civil shelters as Cold War cultural history, including the material history of civil defense as well as the psychological preparedness and public campaigns to prepare for and act during a possible nuclear attack
- Nuclear Cold War technology from a science and technology (STS) perspective
- Theoretical aspects of writing the history of past futures (imagined futures) in a Cold War setting
- How to exhibit and narrate Cold War civil defense and civil society history

Paper proposals should not exceed 300 words and should be submitted through the home page https://www.en.cgs.aau.dk/research/conferences/ifthewarcomes.
Please indicate which session you think your paper belongs in.

The Deadline for full papers will be May 4, 2020.

The organisers intend to publish a collected volume focusing on comparative and transnational aspects of the conference themes.

Conference Venue: Comwell Rebild Bakker, Rebildvej 36, 9520 Skørping, Denmark


cand.mag. Marianne Rostgaard, Ph.D.
Institut for Politik og Samfund
Aalborg Universitet