Current Conference

Call for Papers

First international MKGD-ZMSBw  conference

Gender and Violence in Colonial Wars, Colonial Rule and Anti-colonial Liberation Struggles

Thursday and Friday, January 30 and 31, 2025

Conference venue: Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr (ZMSBw), Potsdam, Germany

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Tanja Bührer (Paris Lodron University Salzburg), Prof. Dr. Isabelle Deflers (Bundeswehr University Munich) and Prof. Dr. Karen Hagemann (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) in cooperation with the ZMSBw.


Theme and Goals

The extreme violence in colonial wars and anti-colonial wars of liberation as well as the structural and actual practice of violence under colonial rule have received increased international academic attention in the last two decades. However, the gender dimension of the topic is still under-researched, although previous gender-historical research on colonial conflicts shows that gender is of considerable importance both as a methodological approach and as a subject of research.

Gender images constructed intersectionally in connection with social, ethnic and racial differences shaped and legitimized the spheres of action of men and women in the violent interactions of colonial conflicts. They significantly influenced the colonial invaders’ practices of violence and the colonized population’s experiences of violence. Native women in the colonies, for example, were particularly victims of sexual violence in its various forms, from forced prostitution and forced concubinage to rape. Native men were forced into forced labor by the colonial powers and recruited as colonial soldiers.

In colonial wars and anti-colonial wars of liberation, especially when they took the form of guerrilla wars, the distinction made in international laws of war—at least in theory—between soldiers and the civilian population was usually completely abolished. They were waged early on as “total” wars with systematic mass violence against the entire population to be colonized. Both colonial troops and the armed forces of anti-colonial liberation movements were dependent on the support and services of the civilian population, including women, during their campaigns. After victorious colonial conquests, the violence in the rule over the indigenous population continued in many ways. Both men and women in the imperial metropolises supported the belligerent politics of colonial conquest in a gender-specific way. Both genders were also actively involved in various ways in the uprisings and wars of liberation that fought against colonial oppression.

The aim of the first thematic conference of the newly founded MKGD research network is to comparatively examine the manifold violent interactions in colonial wars, colonial rule and anti-colonial liberation struggles with a focus on “gender”. In doing so, we want to look at both early modern and modern colonial conflicts up to the end of the Cold War and welcome both: contextualized case studies and diachronic and synchronic comparisons.

Keynote speaker: Dr. Natalya Benkhaled-Vince (Oxford University)

Call for Papers:

The CfP is aimed at advanced doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and professors. The submitted contributions may address the following aspects and topics, but need not be limited to them:

  • intercultural dimensions and dynamics of gender-based violence and violent organizations
  • the role of the intersectional inequality categories of race/ethnicity, class and gender in the colonial space of violence
  • Intersectional gender images, in particular constructions of masculinity, colonial and postcolonial actors of violence
  • Sexual and sexualized violence as an instrument of colonial and postcolonial conflicts
  • Continuities of colonial gender-specific violence and ideas of masculinity/patriarchal structures in anti-colonial movements
  • Female voices and practices of action in colonial conflicts.

The presentations are scheduled for 20 minutes each. Conference languages is English. For the conference, please submit an abstract (approx. 700 words) and a short CV. Please send your application by May 5, 2024 to:

The hotel and travel costs (second-class flight or train) of the invited speakers will be covered by the MKGD Research Network.

Information on the MKGD research network at:

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