Call for Papers – Colonial Counterinsurgency in Comparative Perspective

Call for Papers

Colonial Counterinsurgency in Comparative Perspective

University of Exeter

18 and 19 September 2014

The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have prompted renewed interest in Britain’s experience of counterinsurgency and empire, with a particular emphasis on the period of decolonisation and issues relating to ‘minimum force’, ‘hearts and minds’, human rights protections and the treatment of combatants, civilians and detainees. Yet, in spite of the growing interest in the history of counterinsurgency and empire, there remain few comparative studies of colonial responses to armed insurrection, civil disorder, and responses to paramilitaries and other irregular forces. With this in mind, the aim of the workshop is to reconsider the tenets, the methods and the consequences of the counterinsurgency pursued by Europe’s imperial powers, investigating whether colonial states adopted distinctly national approaches to colonial counterinsurgency.

The workshop will be held at the University of Exeter and will be jointly hosted by the Centre for War, State and Society and the newly established Centre for Imperial and Global History. The organisers invite 250 word abstracts for 30-minute papers that consider any of the following broad issues:

  • Counterinsurgency in theory and practice
  • Intelligence and surveillance
  • Policing and crowd control
  • Collaboration and resistance
  • ‘Minimum force’ and ‘hearts and minds’
  • Population control
  • Combatant status and rights protections
  • The negotiated settlement of insurgencies and small wars
  • The legacy of colonial counter-insurgency for both the post-imperial European states and post-colonial states in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East

The organisers invite papers that address counterinsurgency campaigns in any twentieth-century empires (including the contiguous empires of Russia and East Asia) and comparative papers are particularly welcome. To apply please submit your abstract to the conference organisers, Professor Martin Thomas ( and Dr Gareth Curless (, by Friday 10 January 2014.

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