Defence Research Network

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Monthly Members' Newsletter

Is it really that time of the year already?! Get your new term off to a good start with the DRN...

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 September, we are celebrating the start of a new year with a welcome to the DRN, we've got some great resources to kick start the term, and we want to find out more about you!

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

Welcome to the DRN from our lovely Committee, past and present!
"In other words, students – pandemic or not – will become digital commuters, much as will many office workers. Where they live will not matter, at least not all the time."

Every time September rolls around, I can't help but wonder where the summer went. Is it that time of year already? (Surely not); Have I achieved what I set out to over summer? (Don't be silly); Am I prepared to begin learning again? (What's learning?) - Getting ready for the new term is always a shock to the system.

Nonetheless, this year's 'back to school' season is a bigger shock than ever - and is unsurprisingly looking very different. We're either going into our eighth month (year?) of working from home or frantically trying to book study space online. And, if we do go to campus, will we see our family ever again? Fieldwork plans seem like a distant memory, while sleepless nights over class sizes and timetables are accompanied by the looming worry of being blamed
 for a public health crisis. I think it's fair to say that this is not exactly how any of us imagined navigating a research degree would be.

However, resourceful as we tend to be, we can use this strange period to reimagine how we do research in a way that is inclusive, innovative, and international. 
In a time where there are far more questions than answers, our network has connected people, solved problems, and provided support across cities, countries, and continents - this newsletter alone is read by likeminded people from three different continents! For many, this community has given us the boost we need to keep pushing through in what is otherwise a fairly lonely profession. It is great to see these support networks taking shape in specific fields. For example, the Veteran's and Families Research Hub has set up a useful thread for military-connected students to discuss their experiences in higher education and the development of uniform-friendly universities. For me, this is a perfect example of how, as 'digital commuters', we can make the best of this unusual new term.

With this in mind, I want to welcome new PhD starters to a truly global cohort. Wherever you are in the world, we want to have you on board! If you were forwarded this by a friend, please head to our website and sign up to our mailing list, and don't forget to connect with us on Twitter (@DefResNet) for our regular Twitter Hours.

Unfortunately, the new school year also means that a few of our team are moving on and around. I am very sad to say that this will be the last newsletter I write to you all. I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has read and engaged with this platform over the past year, it has been an absolute pleasure to write about the wonderful things our community is doing, watch our readership grow, and hear your feedback on Twitter. Particularly in these strange and isolating times, knowing that we can connect as a collective has brought me great comfort - I hope that I have played a little part in bringing this community to you, too. Luckily, endings inevitably lead to new beginnings, and the DRN is looking for someone to take over where I have left off! We are also on the lookout for a Twitter Manager to manage our social media presence. Interested? Read below for more information on how to get involved. 

As always, and on behalf of everyone at the DRN, I wish you a happy and healthy month! 

In the News... 
British Universities vs. COVID-19
As Prime Minister Johnson announced renewed lockdown measures in many parts of the country, new and returning students were in the process of relocating to university towns to begin the 2020/21 school year. This has left the country at a "critical moment'" in its pathway to fighting the virus. "Town v gown tensions" have grown as many local residents fear the return of face-to-face teaching.
It's also left many unanswered questions when it comes to the future of higher education, both practical: What does a 'household' look like? Who can I socialise with? Will I be able to go home for Christmas? Can I get a refund? And existential: What is the point of campuses? What will happen to the "growing mass of casualised academics" whose job security is more precarious than ever? And, is the "golden age" of growth for universities over for good? 
Many universities fear that the pandemic will drive down attendance entirely, particularly among international students, whose fees make up critical revenue for these institutions. In the Guardian, Simon Jenkins notes that planes are being chartered to ensure that their Chinese students can attend Queen's University Belfast. Yet, projecting further down the line, Nick Hillman for the Times Higher Education suggests that "A post-coronavirus recession could drive higher university enrolment and enhance human capital". What do you think? Let us know on Twitter!
Who are we? 
We are a collection of interdisciplinary Masters, PhD and early career researchers from the social sciences. Our shared interests include everything defence, security, and military related (broadly defined) and cover fields such as policy, strategy, history, culture, and society.

How can you get involved?
We are always keen to have new faces on our committee
. We are especially looking for two positions: 

Newsletter Editor 
Our monthly newsletter reaches around 260 people in over 20 countries, and thus is a really great opportunity to get your voice heard and connect with a wide audience. You will be responsible for gathering information and compiling the newsletter on Mailchimp. 

Twitter Manager 
As Twitter Manager, you would be responsible for our Twitter feed, and you would take the lead on our Twitter Hours (with the input of the rest of the Committee). This is an exciting role for anyone keen to expand their network and engage with a wide range of people in and out of their field.

For more information, to register your interest in either of these positions, or to join the committee in a more general capacity, please email us at:
(Virtual) Events...
We might be stuck inside, but this isn't going to stop us connecting as a community. Make sure you've got a strong Wifi signal, because you're going to want to join all of these upcoming webinars...
  • Understanding domestic abuse within the Armed Forces Community 
Wednesday 7th October, 10am - 1pm (BST)
Next week, the Veterans and Families Research Hub is hosting a conference to share insights from new research undertaken within the Armed Forces community into domestic violence and abuse and explore how we can advance methods used to improve the support offered to serving and ex serving personnel and their families. This will be a really interesting morning hearing from the leads of research projects from around the country. Confirmed speakers are: 

Dr. Emma Williamson – University of Bristol

Dr. Harriet Gray – York University

Dr.Deirdre MacManus – Kings College, London

David Adams – Chair, MOD Domestic Abuse Working Group

Sign up now on
Eventbrite. For more information you can visit the VFR Hub website here.

  • BISA Postgraduate Network event - Critical Military Studies: Panel discussions
Thursday 8th October, 2pm - 4pm (BST)

Next week, BISA are running two exciting one-hour panel discussions focusing on gender and Critical Military Studies. They will be asking:

  • What challenges do female combatants face during their assimilation in combat roles? 
  • How to tackle hegemonic masculinities in the military?

The first panel will explore the core issues that female soldiers face while trying to integrate into roles traditionally fit for male soldiers. The second will address why hegemonic masculinities are toxic for both genders and how they can be tackled in state institutions including the military. Their impressive list of speakers includes our Committee Chair, Hannah! See the full list below... 

Panel 1 (2pm - 3pm):
Dr Alice Cree, Newcastle University
Dr Ayelet Harel-Shalev, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Hannah West, University of Bath

Panel 2 (3pm - 4pm): 
Dr Natasha Danilova, University of Aberdeen
Dr Emma Dolan, University of Aberdeen
Dr Emily Yarrow, University of Portsmouth

There will be a singular Zoom link for both panels, and you can register

  • ASCN New Zealand - Military Service, Women and Veterans

The Australasian Services Care Network's webinar series is continuing into October with a focus on military servicewomen, female veterans, military sexual trauma and abuse, as well as LGBTIQ veterans.

Moral Injury Research and Clinical Implications: Shining the Lens on Gender Differences.

Dr Shira Maguen
Wednesday 7th of October, 10pm (BST) 

*NOTE* This event takes place in New Zealand Standard Time. Here, I have noted the time in British Summer Time, which is 11 hours behind.

To find out more about the series or to register your interest in further webinars, contact Steve Shamy at the ASCN (New Zealand) Secretariat at email
You can check out the rest of ASCN's work on their
  • BISA Post-Structural Politics Event - Curating conflict: Political violence in museums, memorials and exhibitions
Friday 9th October, 2pm (BST)
BISA's virtual calendar is full for October! The day after the PGN event, the Post-Structural Politics Working Group is hosting a roundtable to discuss what curation practices reveal about broader configurations of power and different conceptions of conflict. They aim to illuminate how curation practices, while commemorating past conflicts, shape international politics in the present. This event will also introduce a double special issue of Critical Military Studies on this theme set for this autumn.

If you want to find out more, head to their website and follow the links to register.
  • The Use of the Soviet Past in the Present
Thursday 8th October, 6pm - 7pm (BST)

Tune in next Thursday to hear one of our founding members, Allyson Edwards (University of Swansea), discuss how Soviet history has informed Russian national identity. Joined by two other PhD students - Lucy Birge (University of Manchester) and Issy Sawkins (University of Exeter) - this discussion will engage with the instrumentalization of this memory during the Yeltsin and Putin era, and the implications of chosen narratives for recent constitutional amendments. 

As well as presentations from Allyson, Lucy, and Issy, there will be a more general discussion about these developments, with the opportunity for a Q&A session. The discussion will be chaired by Dr Kristin Roth-Ey of UCL.

To find out more and sign up, check out their Eventbrite page. 
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.
Supporting our Community... 
World Suicide Prevention Day 2020
Thursday the 10th of September was World Suicide Prevention Day. Military and veteran mental health and wellbeing, suicide prevention, and post-service transitions are very important themes for the DRN, and many of our members are involved in invaluable research in these areas. In the past we have promoted particularly the work of Forward Assist,  Veterans Work, and the Australasian Services Care Network, however we know that there are even more amazing organisations working to improve the health and mental wellbeing of service and ex-servicemembers.

The DRN aims to be a space for fostering community, encouraging conversation, and supporting fellow researchers, and so we would love to make raising awareness for this issue and these organisations a continual conversation on Twitter. This honest and reflective article, 'The Fundamentals of Improving Wellbeing and Mental Health Support for Veterans - Why does it feel like we are getting it wrong?' by Rob Shenton, seems like a good place to start.
 Please share with us other individuals and organisations doing good work in this field. Furthermore, if you ever feel like you need to talk to someone, please don't hesitate to DM us on Twitter or drop us and email. 

In an open letter to the military community, Deputy General of the Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Chris Tickell, talks about the help that is available. Read the full letter here.

You can find out more about the National Suicide Prevention Alliance here.
You can also contact the Samaritans by calling: 116 123 or emailing: 
Launch of report 'The Helping Armed Forces Loved Ones Study'
Kings Centre for Military Health Research and Help For Heroes have recently launched a report recognising the potential role of family members in recognising the signs of a mental health concern and encouraging help seeking in service and ex-service personnel. Authored by  Dr Laura RaffertyDr Sharon StevelinkProf Neil Greenberg (former DRN 'In Conversation' star!), the report explores how a Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT) could be adapted to support UK service and ex-service personnel experiencing PTSD, alcohol misuse and other comment mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. You can read the full report here.
If you fit the bill, please consider getting in touch with Jasmine here to help out with her great project.
Female Veteran's Health and Wellbeing: Call for Evidence
The Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research has been commissioned by the Confederation of Service Charities to carry out a scoping exercise in order to learn more about state of the literature on female veterans' health and wellbeing, identifying gaps in order to prioritise future research and activities. They are calling for evidence to be submitted from anyone working with or carrying out research with female veterans in the UK in the field of health and/or wellbeing.

The responses will be used to complement a systematic scoping review of the literature, and will be combined into an open access report that will be made available via the
Veterans and Families Research Hub.

If you would like to participate, you can find the form and more information here. The deadline is the 31st October.
Uniformly served: Veterans in conversation. Our fabulous committee Chair Hannah has put together this wonderful video based on a community-based workshop she led involving eight local veterans including a cross-section of ages, former ranks and services. The workshop aimed to explore their gendered reflections on military service. To find out more and get involved with Hannah's work, visit her website. 

If you would like to advertise any upcoming opportunities, please let us know via email.

RAF Museum Academic Prizes 2020

The RAF Museum has recently announced its plan to sponsor a series of academic awards for students of all stages of study whose research explores the historiography of the RAF, or relevant areas of archaeology, international relations, strategic studies, law and ethics, museology or air power. They will also consider works which help expand knowledge of operational conditions, adversaries or the context of the RAF’s history.
Applications open on 1 September 2020 for:

• PhD Bursary (£1,500)
• Masters Prize (£250)
• Undergraduate Prize (£150)

Applications close on 25 October 2020.

For more information and how to apply, see their
website and/or contact Dr Harry Raffal here.

Write Herstory 
Herstory Club, an online space for exploring and elevating women's contributions to history, are looking for pieces for their blog!

For October, the platform will be commemorating Black History Month. They are looking for articles which explore the stories of amazing Black women both from history and those working in history. Their pieces are typically around 700 words and are intended to appeal to both an academic and non-academic audience. All they ask is that you send the a 50 word pitch outlining what and why you want to write for them. You can find out more information and access their contact form here.
#DefResChat: Back to School

In this month's Twitter Hour we wanted to find out more about you! For our Back to School theme we asked you to share your tips for making the most of your research degree. Thank you to everyone who joined us! For those who couldn't make it, we'd love to continue the discussion and share resources over the coming weeks - don't hesitate to introduce yourself to us on Twitter at any time! You can find a quick update of our chat below: 

Q1) What are you researching and where?
It was great to have so many people sharing their research - from so many different places! We had new connections from Cardiff, Keele, Sheffield, York, Exeter and even Denmark! It was interesting seeing so many projects exploring military wellbeing and post-service transitions, this is an area which the DRN is exploring in depth so it's lovely to have you all on board! 

Q2) What methodologies are you using? 
We had a wide range of methodologies among those who responded, and we have tried our best to make the resources shared accessible through the
Resources page on our website, so check them out! We discussed everything from autoethnography, to mixed methods, qualitative comparative analysis, and interpretive phenomenology, as well as access issues and adapting amidst the pandemic.

Q3) What questions do you have about your forthcoming studies (ethics, access, resources, study tips, wellbeing)? And for those who are further on in your studies/careers, please share any top tips on any of these?
This was a great chance for students from all stages of their PhD and ECR journeys to share their tips and tricks - thank you so much to everyone who did! We discussed the challenges of MODREC, as well as the importance of both reading widely and writing regularly, setting targets, and reaching out to as many people as possible for support. People aren't as scary as they seem!

Q4) How best can we help you? Do you have any resources/networks you would like us to share with the community?
It was so great to see new and old DRN members connecting over Twitter, and we all agreed that these connections make a massive difference when it comes to getting through the research degree. We would love to keep these conversations going for those who weren't able to join this time round! If you would like to discuss your research, have any methods questions, or just need to talk to someone, please reach out to our community on Twitter or head over to our Resources page! 

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...
Introducing the Committee!
To honour our Back to School theme, instead of an 'In Conversation piece' this month I wanted to introduce you to our current committee members. We are from all stages of the PhD and ECR process, and from very different fields within the defence and security space. We would love it if new faces joined our meetings, so if you are interested in being part of our team please get in contact by emailed or reach out to any of us over Twitter.
Hannah West @hannah_r_west
Hannah is a DRN co-founder and the Chair of our Committee. In her final year of her PhD at the University of Bath, Hannah's thesis ‘(Wo)man of war: A genealogy of women as counterinsurgents’ explores the tensions surrounding women’s participation in counterinsurgency and what this tells us about ‘combat’. 
Dr Dan Leightley @_Dr_Daniel
Dan is a Post-Doc Research Associate at King's Centre for Military Health Research, and he is researching the interface between machine learning and mobile health technologies. Dan is the mastermind between our fab new website, and you can also check out his personal website here
Jemma Humphries @Jemma_H41
Jemma is a PhD student at the University of Bath, and her thesis "The British army, Culture and COIN" explores cultural awareness, organisational cultures, and British counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jemma coordinates our website and has just completed her second placement with DSTL. 
Lucie Pebay  @LuciePebay
Lucie has just begun her second year of her PhD at the University of Bath. Her research explores contemporary military transformation, French strategic culture, and the French land army in the 21st century. Lucie is currently the DRN's Secretary & Events manager.
Dr Veronika Poniscjakova @VPoniscjakova
Veronika is a Teaching Fellow at Portsmouth University, based at RAF Halton. She completed her PhD at the University of Nottingham, where her thesis explored counter-culture, civil disobedience, political violence and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Veronika is our Events manager.

Sally Coulthard
Transitioning from a career in military education, training and personnel strategy, Sally completed an MSc in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture at Coventry University. Awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2019, Sally has continued her research into the use of horticultural therapy with military personnel. She has recently founded the Defence Gardens Scheme.

Emily Clifford @emcliff19 
I am a second year PhD student at the University of Exeter. My work explores how sex trafficking from West Africa to Europe is linked to conflict and militarisation of the Sahel region, and how this militarisation can be reimagined and resisted through listening to the stories of trafficked women. I am the current newsletter editor and membership coordinator.

Ben Hodges @interwarintell
In the process of completing a PhD programme at the University of Northampton, Ben's thesis “British Army intelligence 1923-1940” uses prosopography to investigate how the army imagined, recruited, trained and developed the men and doctrine required for its intelligence function. Ben has held the role of Twitter manager.

Lucy Wray @vanhoorn_LA
Lucy is a PhD researcher at Brunel University London. Her research uses Photo-elicitation to gather the personal stories of military to civilian transition. She is also a registered Occupational Therapist. Lucy has held the role of Twitter manager.
Want to go back and read last month's 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. 
Resources Hub
We have been working really hard to make our Resources page an interesting and informative space for our members at all stages of study to find and share resources pertaining to all aspects of defence and security, methods, ethics, and researcher wellbeing . If you haven't already seen, have a look on our website! And if you think we're missing anything, send us an email or reach out on Twitter and we will add it to our collection. 

Some of the areas we are focusing on are: 

Research Hubs 
Women, Peace and Security 
Critical Military Studies 
Military Health Research 
Veterans & Family Research 
Pre-20th Century Military History
Post-20th Century Military History

*NEW BOOK* In the Service of Yourself: Your Military Transition Companion
by Alex Lovell Smith 
On the theme of new beginnings, this new book is the perfect read for anyone newly out of, or considering leaving, the British military. Retired from the Navy last year as a Lt Cdr  after 12 years’ service, Alex produced this book based on personal experience, documenting  his own transition over a 3 year period. Our committee member Sally read this over the summer and kindly gave us this review: 
In the Service of Yourself is a refreshingly honest and insightful account of the thoughts and feelings that occur when starting to consider leaving military service., and importantly how to work through them effectively. The book offers examples, perspectives and practical advice that will apply to everyone embarking on their own transition,  regardless of rank or length of service.  It is exactly what it sets out to be – Your Military Transition Companion- Highly recommended’.  Col (retd ) Sally Coulthard MBE CF FRSA
 Get your copy 
Pause for thought...

“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation” 

With only a a month until the US Presidential Election, and after a fraught first debate, it is more important than ever to pay attention to these remarks by President Trump, made at a press conference last month.

article, by Barton Gellman for the Atlantic, presents an interesting analysis of what Trump's 'refusal' to commit to a peaceful transition of power could mean for the integrity of the political system in the United States. Does it matter what Trump says? And, how will this impact peace and security both inside and outside of the US?

What do you think?

Let us know on Twitter!
Thank you so much for joining our network.

Have you recently won an award, had your paper published, launched a book or are you organising an event? We want to hear from you! We are always looking for new content for our newsletter and would love to showcase the great work of our members.

For queries, more information, or just to tell us about yourself, don't hesitate to contact us on Twitter @DefenceResNet or at 

The DRN team 
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