Defence Research Network

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Monthly Members' Newsletter

This June we discussed all things airborne - and for once I don't mean a certain infectious disease...

For new friends, welcome! We are an interdisciplinary network of Masters, PhD and Early Career Researchers focused on defence, security and military topics in relation to policy, strategy, history, culture and society. We hope you find our network interesting, exciting, informative, and supportive.

For old friends, thanks for your continued involvement. We would be nothing without you! This July, we're discussing June's theme of air and space power, collaborating with the Freeman Air and Space Institute. In our Twitter hour, we heard your thoughts on the future of air and space technologies, we have caught up with experts in the field, and we are questioning how, and when, humans could settle in space?

Scroll down to get up to date with the news, opinions, and events from our members...

The United States Space Force is slowly becoming more than just political satire, although you'd be forgiven if your mind still wandered to Steve Carrell and John Malcovich's excellent onscreen partnership, or even Chris Pratt's glow-up. Taking over from racoons and extra-terrestrial trees, the newest Guardians of the Galaxy are United States citizens who, over the last year, have completed an adapted military training programme designed to "lay the foundation of a service that is innovative and can go fast in order to stay ahead of a significant and growing threat".

Despite being the world's first and (so far) only independent space force, the United States are not alone in their ambitions. In April of this year, the United Kingdom founded Space Command, a joint command of the British Armed Forces organised under the Royal Air Force. They are joined by China, Russia, Iran, India, and France in developing integrated air and space capabilities, indicating a shared feeling that space superiority is "critical to the modern way of war". 

However, the laws and norms governing military operations lack clear precedents in an interplanetary context. This deficiency has provoked some commentators to urge strategic restraint rather than superiority, arguing that diplomatic solutions be exercised before space warfare is deemed an inevitability. Yet, others suggest that preparing for this inevitability is all the more pressing considering the extent to which satellites are relied upon for both military and civilian infrastructure. These emerging debates are overlaid with the ethical implications of space exploration, presenting a set of interesting opportunities for interdisciplinary cooperation within security and defence studies.

In other news, last month played host to the annual Pride celebrations, with LGBTQI+ communities across the world marking the occasion both virtually and in person. The British Armed Forces occupy a complicated position in this regard; built upon very specific understandings of gender and sexuality, the institution has not generally been known for its tolerance of diversity and difference. For example, despite its legalisation in 1967, homosexuality remained a criminal offence in the British military until 2000. Soldiers suspected of being gay were court-martialed, jailed, subject to invasive medical examinations, stripped of their medals, and denied their pensions. These soldiers are now are calling for royal pardons and financial compensation for the negative impact of this treatment on their livelihood and private life. One such campaigner is Caroline Paige, who in 1999 became the first openly transgender officer in the British Armed Forces. However, Paige's story, which ultimately saw her keep her job in the Royal Air Force, demonstrates the positive attitudinal change occurring across the Forces in recent years. In this vein, For Queer and Country is a series of articles, videos, and conversations recorded for audio and radio broadcasts looking at the transformations of equality and diversity in the British Armed Forces. I encourage everyone to take a look, and wholeheartedly hope that these steps towards inclusivity will contribute to meaningful support for LGBTQI+ personnel both past and present.

As always, we wish you a happy and healthy month!

The DRN Team 

In the News... 
Philippino Military Plane Crash
A Philippines Air Force plane crashed on Sunday, killing 52 and injuring others. The C-130 Hercules transport plane, which was one of two ex-US Air Force planes recently acquired by the Philippines as part of military assistance, missed the runway while trying to land on the southern island of Jolo. The soldiers on board were bound for counterinsurgency operations against the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups in the south. 
Microdrones are on the Horizon has recently reported on progress in the development of a military microdrone that can imitate the flight of an insect or bird. According to a new service release, the US Airforce's research lab is working with Airion Health LLC on the micro air vehicle, which will be remote controlled and is intended for "in-the-open surveillance, aerial swarm operations, and battlefield situational awareness", among other things.
Ukrainian Military Parade in Heels
Although not directly related to air and space power, another news item caught my eye this week. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence has been heavily criticised for its recent decision to train female soldiers to march in heeled shoes. This comes ahead of a planned parade to mark the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union on August 24th, in which female soldiers will be expected to take part in the new prescription shoe. Lawmakers in Ukraine have condemned the decision, calling it "idiotic" and "harmful". What do you think?  
What we've been up to... 
Researcher Spotlight: The Freeman Air and Space Institute
For June's theme of air and space power, we are shining the spotlight on the Freeman Air and Space Institute (FASI). Based out of King's College London's School of Security Studies and financially supported by the Royal Air Force through the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the Institute aims to inform scholarly, policy, and doctrinal debates in what is a complex rapidly evolving strategic environment. One of the DRN's founding members, Dr Sophy Antrobus, is currently a Research Associate with the Institute, and kindly shared some of their news and updates with us. Take a read and connect with them if you are interested in their work! 
This month, the Institute published two new papers, both on Space Power. The first by FASI PhD student, Julia Balm, is on ‘Mediating Space Security: How new and social media are shaping the security discourse’. This paper assesses how online platforms and opinion shapers are sculpting the space environment and security discourse through the media's facilitation of engaging space activity-related content. Balm argues that users of new and social medial help to develop, enforce, and discuss threat perception and normative behaviour.
The second, by Dr Stuart Eves, considers developments in 'Space Situational Awareness Warfare’. In this paper, Eves describes a probable evolution in satellite design and operations as 'Space Situational Awareness Warfare'. He considers the possible techniques that could be adopted by a nation wishing to defend its space assets, particularly in times of crisis.

Read more about these publications here
A couple of dates for the diary:

On 10th September at 1pm (BST), FASI will be holding an ‘In Conversation’ event on the Carrier Strike Group deployment to the Indo-Pacific with Rear Admiral Martin Connell (head of the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm) and Air Vice-Marshal Al Marshall (commander of 1 Group in the RAF) who will give their naval and air perspectives on the activities of the task group as it patrols the Indo-Pacific region.

On 26th October at 4pm (BST), FASI will host its Annual Event, with a lecture followed by Q&A from Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, who will be talking about the RAF’s commitment to Net Zero by 2040 and the challenges this presents. They are hoping this will be an in-person event.

Keep your eyes peeled in future newsletters for more on these events! To keep in touch with future FASI activities, you can also sign up for the FASI mailing list via this link. Additionally, you can watch previous events from KCL's War Studies on their YouTube page. Scroll down to read about the FASI co-hosting our most recent Twitter Hour! 
DRN Essay Competition 2021 • Future Threats & Challenges: Is the World Ready? 
Don't forget:  we have launched our first essay competition!
We are pleased to invite all Masters students and recent graduates in International Relations, History and related fields to submit an essay for our inaugural essay competition. The essays should explore the future of global security and look to answer the following question in an innovative, creative and critical way:
 Future Threats and Challenges: Is the World Ready?         
The competition is a chance for you to share your thoughts in a new way, not restricted by academic standards. By participating you will get useful experience and can give valuable visibility to your research. 
The submission will be peer-reviewed by the DRN committee, and three prizes will be awarded (in Amazon vouchers). The first prize of £50 will be awarded to the Best Essay'. Two other prizes of £25 each will be awarded to The Most Creative Essay’ and the essay presenting ‘The Best Case-Study’. The winners will also receive recognition on the DRN’s social media platforms.
The essays must be written in English and should not exceed 2,000 words (excluding references and bibliography). You are free to use any referencing style as long as its use is consistent. To keep hold of this information, download our flyer.

Please send your essays to and include ‘DRN 2021 Essay Competition’ in your subject line.

The deadline for submission is 17th September 2021.

Good luck! 

For any queries about the competition please contact the DRN via email ( or reach out to us on our social media platforms
Bringing the Homefront to the Forefront: UK Perspectives on Critical Research with Military Spouses
9th July 2021, 1pm - 2.30pm BST 

Dr Emma Long, Dr Alice Cree and Donna Crowe-Urbaniak are pleased to invite you to their upcoming research webinar (happening TODAY). The webinar will be of particular interest to academics involved with military research, especially those who are interested in critical approaches. Click on this link to register.

Ahead of the webinar, follow this link to their website, where you can access each of the speakers' research videos. Here, the speakers outline their research projects, key questions, methodologies used, key findings, and implications. You are encouraged to watch these videos ahead of the webinar (so be quick!). The webinar will include a live panel discussion where speakers will consider the issues and challenges that they encountered whilst conducting research on and with military spouses, followed by Q&A. 

The organisers hope that this format will enable audience members to hear about the research projects without having to dedicate a significant portion of their day to an online event.

Contributors include Dr Sergio Catignani (presenting on work conducted with Dr Victoria Basham), Dr Hilary Engward, Dr Lauren Godier-McBard, Dr Harriet Gray, Dr Eleonora Natale, Alison Osborne, Hannah West and the event organisers Dr Alice Cree, Dr Emma Long and Donna Crowe-Urbaniak.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the organisers at 

Keep scrolling to find out more about the Rethinking Military Spouses Critical Research Group and how you can get involved (Twitter: @CriticalSpouse).

Climate, Conflict, and Demography Conference

14th September 2021, 1.30pm - 6pm BST

Ahead of the COP-26 Climate Conference to be held in Glasgow in November, Africa Confidential, the International Crisis Group, and the Royal African Society are jointly hosting a virtual conference to discuss the impact of climatic and demographic change on Africa. 

Changes in climate and demography in Africa create growing pressure on natural and human resources and increase the risk that political, economic, and social tensions and disagreements turn violent. Conflict often exacerbates the problems and hinders mitigating action. Neither issue is susceptible to a quick or easy solution, so long-term strategies to reduce the risks are increasingly necessary and urgent. 
The conference will address these policy dilemmas and look at actions that governments and the international community should take. 

Besides top-level keynote speakers, the conference will include expert panels focussing on the three main issues: the economic consequences of climate and demographic change, the security implications, and the international dimension.

The aim is to draw up key messages and recommendations both to pass on to COP-26 and to use for follow-up action with African governments and their international partners.

For more information and to register, click here. This event will be live-streamed via Zoom and Facebook. The Zoom link will be sent out to all those registered. 

RAF Museum Conference: New Thinking in Air Power

16 September - 17 September 2021

Tickets are now available for Royal Air Force Museum’s ‘New Thinking in Air Power’ conference on 16th and 17th September 2021. Held in person at the Royal Air Force Museum, London, the conference will bring together academics and scholars to present Air Power research that challenges the accepted historical consensus.

The conference will feature a keynote address from Professor John Ferris entitled “Revolutions in Airpower, 1903-2021: An Anatomy” and a Roundtable session chaired by Professor David Edgerton.

The conference represents an important moment in advancing historical knowledge, with insights from Air Power scholars in all corners of the world. An exciting line-up of speakers will assess the current state of Air Power historiography and the future direction of Air Power thinking. The conference panels will cover everything from the First World War to digital research methods, from Air Power and the Nuclear Paradigm to the motivations of individuals and Air Forces. 

For more information and to register, follow this link.
Defence and Security Doctoral Symposium
9th November 2021, 10am - 4pm GMT 

Hosted by Cranfield University, the Defence and Security Doctoral Symposium provides research students and early career researchers in defence and security with an opportunity to present their work to a sector-wide audience. It covers both technological and social science research. The event also includes an exhibition space for industry and other employers of defence and security researchers. 

They are seeking contributions in four areas:

  • Paper Presentations (20 mins plus 10 mins for questions)
  • 3MT (3 Minute Thesis) Competition (1 Powerpoint slide)
  • Poster Competition (1 Image and supporting 1 minute Video Clip)
  • Digital Image Competition (1 Image and 100-150 Words)

To contribute a presentation or 3MT you need to be in your second year and onwards if a full-time student or fourth year and onwards if a part-time student. The poster and digital image competitions are also open to Early Career Researchers and all research students who are at least halfway through their degree.

To take part, complete and submit a registration form indicating which competition you wish to enter. Then email the title of your submission and abstract to by midnight on Thursday 26th August 2021. You will be notified by Tuesday 28th September 2021. Paper/3MT/Poster/Digital Image and accompanying presentational material to be submitted by Monday 18th October 2021. To find out more, check out their webpage

As always, keep an eye on our Twitter for new events and opportunities posted/retweeted every day!

Planning a future event?
If you are planning a defence-related event and you would like to reach an audience of like-minded researchers, we'd love to come along! Drop us an email and we can include it in our next newsletter.
If you are interested in any of our events but don't want to go alone, or simply want to expand your network, please reach out on Twitter or drop us an email and we can connect you with fellow DRN members who may be planning to attend.

If you would like to advertise any upcoming opportunities, please let us know via email.
Call for Papers: The Journal of Aeronautical History
The Journal of Aeronautical History is looking for papers that speak to diverse and non-technical areas of aeronautical history, from scholars at all stages of their careers.
As an internationally recognized, free-to-access, web-based, peer-reviewed publication of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the JAH covers all aspects of aerospace history and the development of aircraft and aeronautical engineering. The editors are particularly interested in hearing from PGRs, ECRs, and scholars researching non-technical aspects of aerospace history, whether that be the evolution of the science and engineering of flight, biographies of notable individuals, and/or civil and military organizational and operational histories. For more information visit their website, or e-mail , or Twitter @Cobraball3.
Call for Contributors: Defence-In-Depth
The Defence-In-Depth blog is run by Kings College London and has recently featured a number of blogs from DRN members. Their content is well suited to the breadth of our network and they are keen to hear from you with contributions from a wide range of subject areas. To submit a piece or discuss your ideas, contact the editor at
Supporting our Community...
Rethinking Military Spouses: Critical Research Group
The Rethinking Military Spouses Critical Research Group is inviting interested researchers to join their network. They are a group of early career academics focused on developing and sharing novel theoretical, empirical, and methodological insights pertaining to non-serving military spouses.
Broadly, their research interests include the critical analysis of:
  • Military spouses' lived experiences of, for example, deployments, communities, welfare provision, and divorce.
  • The ways military spouses are represented and understood across different social, cultural, and political contexts.
  • How military spouses' practical and emotional labour relates to military objectives.
  • The relationship between military spouses, the military, and the wider state.
They are interested in exploring questions including:
  • What it means to be critical and related implications.
  • Our encounters with the military community.
  • Rethinking homogenous framings of military spouses.
  • Creative opportunities to create impact and related implications.
Follow them on Twitter @criticalspouse
If you are interested in joining the network or hearing more about upcoming events please contact 
. Check out their website to learn more about what they are all working on.
Call for Participants: Needs and Behaviours of Veterans
See below a CfP from Heidi, who is hoping to speak to veterans transitioning out of the Armed Forces on their perceptions of love, belonging, power, survival, freedom, and fun. If you are interested in helping out Heidi, get in contact with her at
Fundraising for PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide  
At the end of this year the brilliant Gav Topley, a former co-chair of the DRN, is tackling Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for PAPYRUS, the national Charity for the Prevention of Young Suicide.  

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under the age of 35 in the UK, in 2018 over 1800 young people took their own lives. PAPYRUS provides confidential support and advice to young people struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person through their helpline, HOPELINEUK. We'd love it if you would donate to Gav's challenge here, and you can read about PAPYRUS' good work here. 
#DefResChat: Air and Space Power
This month’s  #TwitterHour was based on the theme of Air and Space Power. We were very lucky this month to have the Freeman Air and Space Institute co-hosting and answering your questions! Follow them on Twitter here: @freeman_air  

Q1) What are you researching in the field of air and space power right now and from which disciplinary perspective?
  • The cultural impact of drones on warfare and the future shape of the RAF (@DrSophyAntrobus)
  • Developing and testing an irregular spacepower theory. Multi-discipline strategy/geopolitics/IR/physics/social psychology (@GSL_space)
  • Writing an article on how the Baltic Air Policing can be used as a more "comprehensive umbrella" against Russian aerial threats on NATO's eastern flank (@carvalhoandre_)
  • A comparison of Sykes and Trenchard and their thoughts on war. Cuts across several disciplines but ties into other research into networks amongst interwar RAF officers (@RAFMhistorian)
  • Finishing a history of Baltic Cold War aerial reconnaissance and its relationship to the national security policies of Baltic nations, the UK, UK, USSR, and WP (@CobraBall3)
  • I am a historian of science and technology researching the impact of U.S. anti-satellite and space-based missile defence programs on the American-Soviet relations and the transatlantic alliance in the 1980s (@aaronbateman22)
  • Two projects at the moment. First, the development of the @AusAirForce in the era of the Vietnam War. Second, the role of helicopters by the Australian Defence Force (@AirPowerHistory)
  • Just turned my comprehensive history of the B-1 to the publisher. Next project is a history of RPSs in the USAF (@kennethpkatz)
  • The recruitment and training of the RFC. Looking at who the men were, ranks and pilots, how and why they joined and then how they were trained. Likely exposing the unsound narrative that training was awful and deadly, pilots had few flying hours and Smith-Barry saved the day (@Sprucey_1969)
  • I'm researching strategic theory for 21st c. space using the UK as a case study. Merging social sciences with humanities and business has informed my approach to theory building, allowing me to bridge gaps and make a more comprehensive theory for a multifaceted domain (@Nuclear_Balm)
Q2) How have drones changed how militaries think about air power?
  • Obviously cheap and effectively fast drone swarms with a small amount of explosives can attack ground targets unexpectedly, so we've seen anti-drone weapons designed. In the air, there is the possibility secret quadrotors exist that can outperform any human piloted aircraft.
  • What do people think about the term 'drone'? How useful is unmanned, uncrewed or remote? These all seem to be problematic terms. So perhaps drone is best?
    • Is the level of pilot control a factor in the name? With unmanned and uncrewed there is an emphasis on the absence of a person but I suppose remote suggests remotely controlled by someone. 'Drone' has a very robotic/automated sound to me.
    • And remote suggests a lack of distance when Reaper crews might argue that they are intimately involved/close to the enemy. Distance is a contested concept with drones/uncrewed.
  • I think there is a wider question here regarding the implications of uncrewed technologies in the delivery of Land and Maritime Power. Air’s experience is but the start of a much wider journey.
  • I won’t repeat all the arguments which I made here. I’d be interested to hear views on other nations.
  • So much scope for discussion in this Q but I’m most interested in how non-traditional air power states and non-state actors gain capabilities through cheaper drone options
Q3) What does the militarisation of space mean for future warfare, and is space just another domain?
  • Have a look at two papers we published today on space with very interesting and distinct views on space militarisation.
Q4) What are the biggest ethical challenges of new air and space technologies, from AI to drones, and what can we learn from military history/previous advances in technology?
  • That's a nice simple one to end with... Oh. hang on... More seriously, I'd start with an unhelpfully wide categorisation: targeting. Where does AI fit in this? Humans in/on/observing the loop? Or not at all? If AI is less likely to make errors than humans (dependent upon the state of learning) or even none at all, is there a moral/ethical imperative to employ AI instead of humans?
  • What is the 'acceptable' use of these technologies and by who? Often new norms only occur after the use of technology in war.
  • That we'll always argue about what qualifies as a Revolution in Military Affairs. Are drones? Arguably. AI. Almost certainly. Space Warfare? Is that revolutionary or an extension of war by other means?
  • On a pretty meta-level I would say accountability - when we use #AI tools, when we are confronted with black box decision making, skewed data that trains a model, who do we hold accountable for the end result? Programmers, developers, the human-in-the-loop operators? The answer is absolutely difficult but it requires to be considered at the highest level of decision-making before confronted with such scenarios (although perhaps we've already seen such scenarios, thinking of the UAV that allegedly autonomously attacked retreating troops).
 We are grateful to our contributors for sharing their expertise and thoughts! If you have been inspired by any of the research we have discussed, feel free to connect on Twitter! 

Keep your eyes peeled on our website for the next #DefResChat, and don't forget to check for more info on Twitter and our website. 

You can also find all our previous #DefResChats on the Archive section of our
website. Make sure to tag @DefenceResNet and hashtag #DefResChat to join the conversation.
Find Out More
What we're reading...
In Conversation
Following an active month of discussions on air and space power, our first conversation is with Dr Harry Raffal, a Historian at the RAF Museum. Following this, we rewind back to last month's theme of the military body to chat to Dr Hannah-Marie Chidwich about new critical approaches to war and violence in the Roman world. Hannah is a Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Bristol.

Check out our discussions below - they are also available on our website!
Hi Harry! 

What is it like working in a museum compared with academia?
I think it is more helpful to see how much the two overlap. Curators do an extraordinary amount of research and hold a depth of specialist knowledge, on topics and collections. Perhaps the most significant difference is that publications are written less frequently but then the in-gallery results are seen by an audience a magnitude greater than will see the average research paper.       
What do you see as the biggest debates in air and space power at the moment?
How, when the armed forces as a whole have a smaller footprint in society, do we ensure the British Public have mature concepts of Air & Space Power — its utility, relevance and where relevant the appropriateness of its uses? Other strategic debates are of enormous importance but we can only apply the correct answers in the context of a public willing to accept and ultimately to pay for them.

In what ways does the RAF Museum connect with researchers?
The Museum aims to be a hub for all research on the RAF, or on-Air Power more generally. We offer a series of Academic Awards (BA and MA prizes and a PhD Bursary) and are always keen to keep in touch with those who are actively researching the RAF whatever stage of career they are at. The Museum directly contributes to PhDs through active involvement and supervision in Collaborative Doctoral Awards. To help disseminate research the Museum offers several different lecture series, including with the Royal Aeronautical Society and Academic Partners. The Museum hosts an annual conference that aims to be the leading forum for critical thinking in Air Power and offers an ideal networking opportunity for anyone researching in relevant areas.
What is your favourite exhibit in the RAF Museum?
A horribly difficult question as across the Museum’s two sites, London and Cosford there are so many remarkable exhibitions. However, the Handley Page Halifax Mk II (W1048) at the London site probably stands out as my ‘favourite’ exhibit.
The story of W1048’s loss in its first operational flight and subsequent recovery of most of the wreckage (largely intact) from Lake Hoklingen is captivating in its own right. However, it stands out as an exhibit because left unrestored the wreckage makes it impossible to escape the consequences of conflict.

What has been the most surprising thing you have found in the RAF Museum?
A block of wood with an ‘interesting Air Ministry stamp’. Remarkably mundane.

What are you currently working on? 
I have just finished working on Air Power and the Evacuation of Dunkirk is being published by Bloomsbury on 12 August (get your library to order a copy, horribly expensive being an academic imprint) and have begun researching the respective ‘Thoughts on War’ by the Trenchard and Sykes (respectively the first and second Chief of the Air Staff). However, I am also researching online memory and commemoration during recent 75th anniversaries of the Second World War (Arnhem, Dresden, VE Day, VJ Day) using ‘big data’ approaches involving web scrapes of websites and twitter captures. I am also running a volunteer project to capture the last 30 years of bravery awards in the RAF as part of a longer running g project within the Museum.

What got you into your field of study in the first place? 
To a large extent, I think that is linked to growing up in London in an area shaped by Second World War bombing and my own family history. Ever present those factors were always revealing the idea that the past roots who we are and shapes who we might be. Dinosaurs were also a ‘big thing’ when I was young — I have to imagine those sorts of trends have a general feedback loop into what children become more generally interested in.

What was your path to where you are now?
I was never very good at very much else.

What are you currently reading and are you enjoying it? 
I am currently reading Stephen Bawdsey’s Doctrine and Reform in the British Cavalry, 1880–1918 which is excellent.

How have you found working from home? 
Challenging. Turning off is a much harder process.

What advice would you like to give PhD students and early career researchers that you wish someone had said to you? 
Look for opportunities to collaborate and develop new skills. I started working on Digital History projects as much by a chance as design and it has consistently been the area where I develop new ideas and skills which feedback into and improve my other research projects.

Who have been the most influential academics in your professional career? 
David Omissi has been a defining part of my research since my undergrad dissertation. I can remember reading Gary Sheffield’s Forgotten Victory and Dan Todman’s The Great War: Myth and Memory whilst doing my A-Level, they set the standard to try to emulate.

What are your top tips for getting published? 
Be proactive, look for opportunities.

What is the most effective teaching method you have delivered or seen delivered? 
In seminars, instead of doing generic icebreakers, encouraging short brainstorming sessions of how to answer relevant essay/exam questions to kick-off the seminar.

What is your favourite museum and why? [Imagine this is a no brainer for you!]
Tough question! The RAF Museum; it pays me to do what I love but it is also one of the most welcoming places for new researchers to become part of a wider community and share their ideas — so do email even if it is just to share what you are currently working on.

Hi, Hannah! 

What do you see as the biggest debates in the study of the military body?

I contend that bodies have always been central to warfare: war, as Elaine Scarry put it, is precisely about fighting, injury and physical prowess, within and beyond the real or virtual battlefield. However, this is a facet of war-making which is not always present in military history, particularly in the history of war in the ancient Mediterranean, where studying ‘warfare’ predominantly involves learning about strategies, tactics, and technologies of war, or coming at the topic from the angle of politics, economics and international diplomacy. My research, in tandem with an emergent interest amongst Ancient History scholars, aims to change that by exploring more holistic, critical approaches to war in the ancient Mediterranean. 
What representations of the military body in art do you find the most interesting?
As a Roman historian, I am both fascinated and disconcerted by the ubiquity of the Roman soldier in the modern western imagination: he’s everywhere! The centurion, usually white, sporting his red cloak and fringed helmet, is one of the most recognisable icons of the Roman empire who appears across modern pop culture and social spaces. This figure evokes a highly complex set of ideologies and value systems concerning patriarchy, imperialism, colonialism, which I think ought to be interrogated more rigorously in terms of their connection to present-day attitudes to war and violence.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on two publications: the first, developing my PhD thesis into a monograph which explores a new approach to reading Roman narratives of war. ‘Arms and the Many: Multiplicity in Lucan’s Civil War’ presents a new interpretation of a notoriously violent Latin epic poem about the wars of the 1st century BCE (which led to the collapse of the Republic and the rise of autocracy in Rome) by developing a reading practice informed by the work of post-structuralist thinkers, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. I aim to show how reading with ‘multiplicity’ and its related concepts is a productive methodology for approaching war narratives, particularly the role of the soldierly body in these texts. The second publication is an interdisciplinary edited volume entitled ‘The Body of the Combatant in the Ancient Mediterranean’ – a theme very pertinent to the interests of this DRN In Conversation series. In 2018, I hosted a colloquium which brought together scholars from across disciplines in exploring the perception and function of the soldierly body in ancient materials; the book will pioneer an approach to ancient warfare which starts from the body and its role in war-making.
Alongside these, I am growing a pedagogical research network entitled Researching and Teaching Ancient Warfare in Education, collaborating with teachers in schools, colleges and universities to develop more holistic resources and practices for teaching ancient warfare in HE and FE.
What was your path to where you are now?
I have been very fortunate to be mentored by some incredible, progressive thinkers throughout the development of my academic career, and the direction taken in my own research can be largely accredited to their influence. As an undergraduate in Classical Studies at Bristol, I was inspired by reception scholars, Ika Willis and Vanda Zajko, respectively, to explore narratives of violence in ancient texts and modern culture – not necessarily in the sense of the ancient literature directly informing modern receptions, but reading parallels across time and texts to generate new understandings of how violence functions through language. That critical, comparative approach to studying texts has stayed with me ever since, leading to an MA in Reception and Critical Theory, then a PhD in Classics and Ancient History (also at Bristol) supervised by Ellen O’Gorman, a project which explored post-structuralist approaches to Latin poetic war narratives, which is now being revised for publication.  
As I dug deeper into what is often termed ‘military history’, I perceived that the real, visceral ramifications of violence, warfare and military cultures in Ancient Rome have been devastatingly undertreated in most scholarship on war and its many forms. At the moment, I am exploring new ways to address this absence in Ancient Mediterranean studies while, moreover, investigating how such a narrow depiction of Roman warfare in modern receptions can impact conceptions of gender, class and race today.
What is the most effective teaching method you have delivered or seen delivered?
As part of my work in outreach and widening participation, I designed and delivered a series of workshops entitled ‘Experiencing War in the Roman World’, in collaboration with Classics teacher and scholar, Rob Hancock-Jones. In the secondary school curriculum, ancient warfare is taught predominantly on a rote-learning basis, with the emphasis on political and strategic aspects of war-making in ancient Greece and Rome. This is not an effective way to teach war: if students only learn about the design of Athenian warships or the number of pitched battles between Carthage and Rome, then they are not really learning about the many complex issues bound up in war-making (willing or unwilling). The curriculum also features little discussion of the role of women in relation to ancient warfare, an exclusion which serves to perpetuate the notion that studying Ancient Mediterranean history does not need to include studying women. 
My workshops aimed to enrich and also challenge the focus of the curriculum, while simultaneously being suitable for introducing Ancient History to pupils who were perhaps new to the subject. They did this most effectively by drawing comparisons between the experience of the soldier in ancient Rome and today: students across KS3-5 were intrigued by the similarities in the age of soldiers, their diverse backgrounds, and themes of cohort identity, but also the evidence for soldiers missing their families or simply being terrified of battle. Like university students, pupils explored ancient texts (in translation) themselves, allowing them to access the words of ancient soldiers, and people writing about soldiers, virtually first-hand. I also allowed for plenty of group discussion, so students could freely share their interpretations without worrying whether or not they had ‘the right answer’, and encouraged students to be creative in their responses by writing or drawing their ideas.
Along with the now (thankfully) widespread work towards decolonising Ancient Mediterranean studies in the classroom, I continue to develop more holistic approaches to researching, teaching and learning about war.   

Thank you, both, for talking with us today! 
Want to go back and read last month's 'In Conversation' interview? You can! We are cataloguing all of our In Conversation pieces separately on our website. If you know someone interesting who would be willing to take part in our In Conversation series, please let us know via email. 
Research Paper Spotlight: Military Drones in Europe

Jessica Dorsey and Nilza Amaral have recently published a paper for Chatham House in which they examine the contentious questions raised by armed drone use. They argue that Europe and the UK need to work together on developing guidance on best practices for improving transparency and accountability around the use of armed drones. This, they contend, is integral to the maintenance of a rules-based international order and the defence of democratic values.

This paper has been developed as part of a project focusing on the policy implications for the UK and the EU of the use of armed drones. Their analysis draws on discussions that took place at two research workshops and a simulation exercise held at Chatham House in 2019. To read the full paper, follow this link. You can also watch the video below for a helpful summary of the main arguments and recommendations.

This short video outlines the premise of the report and provides recommendations for ensuring transparency and accountability around the use of armed drones.
New Books
The Bomber Mafia: A Story Set in War 
Malcolm Gladwell
As the theme of this month’s newsletter is air power, this recently published book may be of interest to some of you. It focuses on the famous ‘Bomber Mafia’, a small group of strategists who considered the idea of taking out critical choke points, such as industrial targets or transportation links, to cripple the enemy but make war less lethal. 
The book explores the morality of war and methods, technology and the best intentions, used during the Second World War.
You can buy a copy
Deserters of the First World War
Andrea Hetherington
As the title suggests, this book focuses on the deserters in the First World War. The book describes the methods these men used in order to survive, including ridding themselves of all connection with the military or hiding in plain sight. The book also outlines their reasons for desertion, such as conscientious objections, mental disabilities, protest or boredom.
You can buy a copy 

Pause for thought...

This week, BBC Science Focus Magazine talked to Professor Christopher E Mason about his new book The Next 500 Years: Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds. In the book, Mason discusses our 'moral duty to explore other planets and solar systems' in order to avoid extinction, laying out a 'ten-phase, 500-year program that would engineer the genome so that humans can tolerate the extreme environments of outer space'.

Speaking to Ian Taylor,
Mason suggests that human genome editing would make it possible for humans to adapt to the ill effects of space travel such as reduced gravity, extreme temperatures, and even radiation. This, he believes, would give humans the tools needed to settle across the Solar System. However, this inevitably raises political and ethical questions about the expendability of bodies, our obligations to future generations, and space exploration in general. 

What do you think? Let us know on Twitter!

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