Militaries and Militarization: The Turn to Resilience

Gundula Gahlen
Donnerstag, 13. Dezember 2018 bis Freitag, 14. Dezember 2018
Montag, 3. September 2018

Venue: Danish Institute for International Studies/Copenhagen Østbanegade 117 2100 Copenhagen

Co-organizers: Robin May Schott (DIIS) and Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck)


The concept of resilience has become a buzzword of our times. What happens when this concept becomes militarized?

Cynthia Enloe defines militarization as “the step-by-step process by which something becomes controlled by, dependent on, or derives its value from the military as an institution or militaristic criteria” (Maneuvers, 291). Militarization takes place both at the level of the physical world, from Campbell’s Star Wars soups to popular clothing, and at the conceptual level, as in understandings of violence, values and subjectivity.

Currently there is a shift taking place in the U.S. Army and other militaries in the understanding of personal responses to violence. Instead of understanding the impact of violence primarily in terms of trauma, there is a new interest in resilience or robustness. The implications of this military turn to resilience are potentially immense: this conference will bring together scholars from different disciplines to address this new phenomenon.

We will explore the implications of the turn to resilience both for military institutions and in terms of broader social issues. These developments affect how we understand, for instance:

  • Victims of violence in war and peace
  •  The mobilization of values, such as sacrifice and loyalty
  • The role of emotions in violence, including shame
  •  The governance of intimate life
  •  Masculinities and femininities
  • Social institutions, such as health care
  •  Privacy rights and big data
  • Conceptualizations of war and security (including challenges to the dichotomy between international and domestic/social security)
  • Technological enhancements and human enhancements

We hope to bring together researchers from a broad range of backgrounds in the humanities and social sciences, including those with military backgrounds, who work with these issues. The conference will contribute to dialogue across disciplines, as these issues cannot be siloed within individual disciplines.

Keynote speakers

Joanna Bourke (on militaries and militiarization) Department of History, Classics and Archaeology Birkbeck, University of London, UK Email:

Paul Higate (gendered culture of militiarized masculinities) Department of Politics, Language and International Studies University of Bath, UK Email:

Alison Howell (resilience, war, and social security) Department of Political Science Rutgers University, Newark, USA Email:

Peter Leese (war, trauma studies, cultural history) Department of English, Germanic and Roman Studies University of Copenhagen, Denmark Email:

Ruth Leys (trauma, war, intellectual history) Henry Wiesenfeld Professor Emerita, Department of Comparative Thought and Literature Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, USA Email:


Please submit abstracts (approx. 250 words) for 20-minute paper presentations by September 3 to: Rebecca Solovej


A few small travel scholarships for Ph.d. students will be available. For those applying for assistance, please include a travel budget and brief motivation of the relevance of this conference for your work.

Practical information

Participation is free of charge and DIIS will provide lunch both days. The organizers invite all presenters to join the opening dinner at the first night of the conference. Information on local hotels will be provided when participation is confirmed. Notification will be provided by October 1.

Contact information

For any further practical or logistical questions regarding the conference please don't hesitate to contact Rebecca Solovej