Monday, 22 February 2010

Fraternizing/non-fraternizing with the enemy?

Seminar in Manchester next Monday. Anyone taking the unit 'Translating History' this summer and within reach of Manchester should find this seminar very interesting.

The seminar will take place at 2 p.m. on Monday 1 March in room A101, Samuel Alexander Building, the University of Manchester.

Fraternizing/non-fraternizing with the enemy? Uncovering the place of foreign languages in conflict.
Hilary Footit, University of Reading

This research starts from the observation that foreign languages are absent from the accounts of war traditionally produced by International Relations scholars, war studies specialists, and social and cultural historians of conflict. The project on which the paper is based (Languages at war: policies and practices of language contacts in conflict) aims to make the place of foreign languages more visible in war, and to argue that they are an integral part of the political economy of war and conflict.
This paper will raise some of the issues associated with the enterprise of making languages visible in conflict situations by looking at three specific cases – intelligence, preparing military personnel for operations in foreign countries, and encounters between soldiers and civilians ‘on the ground’ in conflict. Each of these, in the context of the Second World War, the paper will argue, poses different research problems related to sources and interpretative frameworks:
- a case in which language- related sources (both written and oral) exist in abundance, but have not thus far been explored
- a case in which foreign languages are not specifically named but are embedded in policy preparations
- and finally, a case in which foreign languages are a vital but unexplored part of the ‘on the ground’ meeting between armies and civilians.

Hilary Footitt is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading. She has written widely on discourses of women in politics (Women, Europe and the New Languages of Politics, Continuum, 2002), and on the army/civilian encounter in World War Two (War and Liberation in France. Living with the Liberators, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). She is currently Principal Investigator for the AHRC sponsored project Languages at War: policies and practices of language contacts in conflict (, led by the University of Reading, with the University of Southampton, and the Imperial War Museum, London.

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