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Defence Research Network

Interested in all things defence? Take a peek inside our

Monthly Members' Newsletter

Whether lockdown has you completing your bookshelf or struggling to make it past the first the page, we've got your reading covered this June...

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 June, we are asking you what you're reading, we're supporting Black Lives Matter in the British Army, we're looking forward to our second webinar, and we're evaluating the merits of science fiction to a military education. 


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

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"You are travelling essentially. Reading is a state of freedom - the freedom of the mind, the freedom of the imagination, and there is no better cure to feeling nailed to the spot than reading" 


The Hay Festival, the UK's biggest literary event, experienced unexpected success last month after being forced online by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite cancelling the caterers, the tents, and even the visitors, this year's festival doubled in size as people all over the world, all similarly 'nailed to the spot' by their respective lockdowns, tuned in to hear from the literary world's finest. 

Ever since lockdown began, we have been reading more than ever. No, I don't just mean the constant stream of BBC headlines. A survey by Nielsen's Books revealed that here in the UK we have almost doubled the amount of time we spend reading since lockdown measures were imposed in March. Whether in print, digital, or audio form, books have become, for many of us, a sanctuary from the frightening uncertainty of real life, a respite from isolation boredom, and a way of connecting the community. Yet, as restrictions ease even further this week, will we drop our books at the first hint of 'beer garden', or is this a habit that we'll hold on to? The mental health benefits of reading are such that we sincerely hope this trend is here to stay.

As researchers, I think it is fair to say that we have a heightened appreciation of books. Without them, where would we be? Who would we be? With libraries shut for the fourth month, we have been finding innovative ways to access and share books and other resources online. We want to extend a huge thanks to all of you who have engaged on Twitter and contributed to our resources page so far. The DRN is, and always will be, a collaborative effort, and its really exciting to see our community grow to over ten different countries - through sharing resources and ideas online, we've essentially been travelling all along.

Until next month... grab a book, put your feet up, and happy reading! 
In the news...
Black Lives Matter and the British Army
After the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the world-wide protests that followed, many institutions are reflecting on their compliance with racism and racial violence. The British Army is among themEarlier this year,
Ben Quinn reported that 'subtle racism' was rife in the forces, with the complaints system failing BAME personnel. According to the service complaints ombudsman, BAME personnel make up just 7% of the forces, but in 2018 accounted for 13% of complaints - 39% of which were for bullying, harassment and discrimination. 
The BBC documentary 'Racism in the Ranks', aired earlier this month, investigates complaints of bullying, harassment and discrimination in the British Army that come disproportionately from ethnic minority soldiers. For example, after the launch of 2019's recruitment campaign, Army Corporal Kerry-Ann Morris received racist backlash from fellow soldiers online.
Considering our theme this month is books, I have done some searching for books that document the British Army's long and complicated history with race. Stephen Bourne has written extensively on the role and place of Britain's Black community in WWI and WWII. Black Poppies, Mother Country, and The Motherland Calls 'provide a powerful, revelatory counterbalance to the whitewashing of British history'. Vron Ware's Military Migrants takes a more recent look at Britain's 'multicultural army', examining 'migrant-soldiers' in the British army in relation to British culture, history and nationalism. She also explores the impact of war on UK society during the 21st Century.
Do you have more suggestions? The DRN stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and we would love to collate a comprehensive list of educational resources on racism and the British military. 
Please share your ideas with us on Twitter or via email!
It was great to get so many book recommendations in our latest #DefResChat! Check out our #DefResResources page of the website for all your suggestions in one handy place. If you missed the Twitter Hour but have recommendations you want to share with us, please contact us on Twitter or send us an email!
(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...
  • **TONIGHT** DRN Webinar #2 on Research Methods
Following from the success of our inaugural webinar with Tim West, on Wednesday 24th June at 8pm (TONIGHT!), Veronika, Alex, and Sophy will be hosting the DRN's second webinar on all things methods and methodology. They will be particularly focusing on interviews, archives, and overseas fieldwork, however we hope that this will prompt interesting discussion on the wide range of methods used among our members. Judging by your great responses to our recent Twitter Hour on methodology, we are sure this will be a fun and informative evening. Don't miss out! 
Sign up by sending us an email. If you want to find out more about our speakers, check them out on Twitter... Veronika: @VPoniscjakova Alex: @_AlexWaterman Sophy: @DrSophyAntrobus 

 
  • RUSI Webinars
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has long been known for hosting impressive speakers and holding engaging seminars. 
Owing to the global pandemic, these have largely been moved online. However, this has not diminished RUSI's repertoire. Although some are member-only, there are a few open to the public (and they're free - although you'll have to create an account). Here are a few which we're excited about coming up this week...

Africa in Perspective. TODAY Wednesday 24th June at 12pm.

This half-day webinar with senior Africa experts will examine the continent's progress towards African Union Agenda 2063 amid the backdrop of threats from armed violence. Speakers include His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of Nigeria, and His Excellency Ambassador Dr Mohammed Guyo, Special Envoy for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, among many others. Register here.

Mapping a Pandemic: Managing Instability - The Pandemic from the Perspective of Civil Society. TOMORROW Thursday 25th June at 12pm.
This webinar will discuss the role and challenges facing civil society leaders in fragile and conflict affected nations as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Civil society leaders from Afghanistan, Kenya and Yemen will be outlining the challenges they face and the desired role of the international community in supporting them to advance peace and security.

These speaker will be: 
Wazhma Frogh, Member of the Afghanistan High Peace Council and Founder of the Women and Peace Studies Organization (WPSO).
Hassan Ismail Mohamed, Kenya Programme Co-ordinator, Interpeace.
Rasha Jarhum, Founder and Director of the Peace Track Initiative. 
The webinar will be moderated by 
Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini MBE, Founder and Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network.

Register here. NOTE - you must register TODAY (24th June) to take part.

You can see RUSI's full list of events here.
  • No Man’s Land – Experiences and Needs of UK Women Veterans
The Australasian Services Care Network (New Zealand) invite you to their next webinar in their series on Military Transitions.
At 9.00 pm (BST), Wednesday 1st of July
Tony Wright and Paula Edwards from the UK Charity Forward Assist will share key issues and insights from their recent research on the experiences and needs of Women Veterans in the UK. Along with the presentation there will a Q&A session - so come prepared! You can read up on Forward Assist's 'Salute Her' project here. If you would like to register, follow this link.
  • Implementing Women, Peace and Security: Localisation in the OSCE Region
Next week, the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security and the Organization for Security and Co-operation of Europe Secretariat Programme for Gender Issues are hosting a webinar to present the results of a study on the challenges of implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda in OSCE participating countries. With an in-depth focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine, this webinar will discuss how to further develop localisation of the implementation of the National Action Plans. 
The speakers will be: 
Samra Filipović Hadžiabdić, Director of the Agency for Gender Equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jyldyz Kuvatova, Associate Professor, American University of Central Asia.
Henri Myrttinen, Co-author of the report. 
Dominika Stojanoska, Head of Office ad interim of the UN Women Country Office in Ukraine.
Tuula Yrjölä, Director of OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre.
The chair will be Sanam Naraghi Anderlini MBE, Director of the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security and founder and CEO of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)

You can register here, and read the report here.
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.
Support our Community... 
Herstory 
Herstory Club is a networking group which aims to bring women with a passion for history together, offering an opportunity for both professional and social connections.
 
Whilst there are some great initiatives already working to help raise the profile of women in academia, there seemed to be a lack of more informal spaces for women to simply connect and share experiences.
Herstory Club began with a meet up, and has developed as a space to network and showcase women involved with history at all levels via Twitter (@Herstory_Club) and the Herstory Club website.
However your interest manifests; whether you’re an aspiring historian, working in a related industry or someone who just loves history, please feel free to join our digital community (or pop along to one of our local meet ups once we emerge from the effects of COVID19). You do not need to be an academic or hold any qualifications; we are here simply to celebrate and connect women with a shared love of history.
Transitioning from student to early career researcher? Feeling a little daunted by the jump? Take a look at our short film, produced at one of our previous events, to hear our advice on bridging the gap! See our website for a full review of the day and some useful advice.
Mental Health and Ex-service Personnel
Anglia Ruskin University's Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research is doing a survey into barriers to care for ex-service personnel suffering from mental health problems. The study is particularly looking for female participants, as they are interested in finding out more about gender-related differences in help seeking experiences. Findings will be used to shape further research. To complete the survey, follow this link.
#DefResChat Books, books, and more books...

In this month's Twitter Hour, we talked all things books. Thanks again to everyone who joined - we loved hearing about all your favourite books and useful resources from the various sub-fields among us! For those of you who couldn't make it this time round, we have complied a list of the resources you shared with us below: 

Q1 What are the key, go-to texts in your field of research?

Cynthia Enloe (1988) Does Khaki Become You: The Militarization of Women’s Lives. Boston: South End Press. 

Ana Arjona (2017) Rebelocracy: Social Order in the Colombian Civil War. New York: Cambridge University Press.

David French (2001) Raising Churchill’s Army: The British Army and the War Against Germany 1919-45. New York: Oxford University Press USA.

David M. Rosen (2005) Armies of the Young: Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Rachel Brett and Irma Specht (2004) Young Soldiers: Why They Choose to Fight. Boulder: Lynne Rienner.

John Hockey (2006) Squaddies: Portrait of a Subculture. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. 

Robert Cialdini (2007) Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. New York: HarperCollins.

Frank Ledwidge (2017) Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in the 9/11 Wars. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Theo Farrell (2018) Unwinnable: Britain’s War in Afghanistan, 2001–2014. New York: Random House.
 

Q2 Have any books caused you to change or consider new methodologies for your research?

Carolyn Ellis (1999) Heartful Autoethnography. Qualitative Health Research, 9(5): 669–683.

Sarah Bulmer and David Jackson (2016) “You do not live in my skin”: embodiment, voice, and the veteranCritical Military Studies, 2(1-2): 25-40. 

Adam Dolnik (Ed) (2013) Conducting Terrorism Field Research: A Guide. Abingdon: Routledge. 

Nigel Barley (2000) The Innocent Anthropologist: Notes from a Mud Hut. Long Grove: Waveland Press.

Harry F. Wolcott (2009) Writing Up Qualitative Research, third edition. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Svend Brinkmann and Steinar Kvale (2018) Doing Interviews. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Jenny Rowley (2014) Designing and using research questionnaires. Management Research Review, 37(3): 308-330. 

Sue Wilkinson (1998) Focus group methodology: a review. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 1(3): 181-203.

Gerrard Noonan (2017) The IRA in Britain, 1919-1923: In the Heart of Enemy Lines. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Steven Wagner (2019) Statecraft by Stealth: Secret Intelligence and British Rule in Palestine. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
 

Q3 Are there any new or forthcoming books that excite you?

Kevin Jones (2021) Intelligence, Command and Military Operations: The Eighth Army Campaign in Italy 1943-45. Abingdon: Routledge.

Kathleen Sherit (2020) Women on the Frontline: British Servicewomen’s Path to Combat. Stroud: Amberley Publishing.

David Brenner (2019) Rebel Politics: a Political Sociology of Armed Struggle in Myanmar’s borderlands. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Alison Howell (2018) Forget “militarization”: race, disability and the “martial politics” of the police and of the university. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 20(2): 117-136.

Alan Allport (2017) Browned Off and Bloody-Minded: The British Soldier Goes to War 1939-45. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Jonathan Fennell (2019) Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

John Ferris (2020) Behind the Enigma: The Authorised History of GCHQ, Britain’s Secret Cyber-Intelligence Agency. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Bernard Lewis (2021) Neath’s Forgotten Hero: the Life of Henry Coombe-Tennant. Aberystwyth: Y Lolfa.

Kevin Riehle (2020) Soviet Defectors: Revelations of Renegade Intelligence Officers, 1924-1954. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 
 

Q4 What is the one book you would recommend someone reads as an introduction to your field of research?

Joshua Goldstein (2001) War and Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Duncan Exley (2019) The End of Aspiration?: Social Mobility and Our Children’s Fading Prospects. Bristol: Policy Press.

Brian Parritt (2011) The Intelligencers: British Military Intelligence from the Middle Ages to 1929. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Military. 

Emile Simpson (2012) War From The Ground Up: Twenty-First Century Combat as Politics. London: Hurst.


These resources and many more can be found on the #DefResResources page.

For our next #DefResChat we are hosting our second WEBINAR on research methods. This will be on Wednesday the 24th of June (TONIGHT!). 
Keep your eyes peeled 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
Opportunities...
One door closes and another one opens?

If you would like to advertise any upcoming opportunities, please let us know via email.
What we're reading...
In Conversation
This month, Hannah has been in conversation with Dr Aimée Fox. Dr Fox is the author of Learning to Fight: Military Innovation and Change in the British Army and a lecturer at the Defence Studies Department of Kings College London. Here, she gives us all some great advice about trusting yourself, WFH tips, as well as some interesting reading recommendations. 

What are you currently working on? 
I’ve actually found it quite difficult settling on the next major research project after finishing up my doctoral research, so I’m working on a few different things at the moment! My next major publication
is a scholarly edition of Major-General Guy Dawnay’s correspondence. Dawnay is a really interesting character. He’s a reservist on the outbreak of the First World War and promotes from captain to temporary major general in under four years. He fancied himself as a bit of a poet, he’s a financier, and after the war he becomes chairman of Armstrong Whitworth and is mentioned by name in the 1935 Royal Commission on the Private Manufacture of and Trading in Arms. More importantly than all that though, he’s a devoted husband and father, and my edition seeks to explore some of the pressures and challenges of maintaining the link with home and family during total war. I’m hoping the edition will be just as useful to gender historians as it will be to military historians. Alongside the Dawnay volume, I’m also researching a social network of elite women and seeking to use their writings and material culture to write a new military and political history of Britain in the era of the First World War. To date, their letters and diaries have been used to shed light on their husbands’ lives and careers. I’m keen to foreground their voices to explore their experiences of the everyday, their leisure activities, their friendships, and their views on domestic, political, and military matters. I’ve found this project quite daunting because there’s so much great scholarship out there on gender and women’s history, but I’m enjoying the challenge.
 
What got you into your field of study in the first place? 
To be honest, it’s quite a convoluted story (!), but I suppose there were three influences that got me into this field: first, at secondary school, we had a module on war poetry and my great aunt gave me the medals, postcards, and letters from a family member who had served in the First World War. He had been killed in 1917, leaving behind his wife and twin daughters, and I just wanted to find out more. I got that opportunity as an undergraduate at the University of Birmingham, which leads me to my second influence: fantastic tutors. At Birmingham, I was taught by some really enthusiastic tutors – Professor John Bourne, Professor Mike Snape, and Dr Rob Thompson – who sparked my interest in the history of warfare more broadly. They saw something in this painfully shy, self-conscious nineteen-year-old and without them I wouldn’t have taken up postgraduate study. The final influence was my work in the public sector. I didn’t go straight through from BA to MA to PhD. When I graduated from Birmingham, I worked for five years in local government, completing my MA part-time, whilst working on projects relating to NEET young people, apprenticeships, and child poverty. In this environment, I saw how colleagues were coming up with great ideas, but there seemed to be a problem transferring those ideas and initiatives to the people who could roll those out more widely. There seemed to be a problem around knowledge transfer and learning, which got me thinking about some of the same challenges in the British Army during the First World War. And that was how my PhD project was born!
 
What are you currently reading and is it any good? 
Whilst in lockdown, I’ve been trying to read books from different fields and on different subjects. My research project on elite women has got me thinking about gendered spaces in the home in the early twentieth-century, so I’ve been reading Jane Hamlett’s Material Relations: Domestic Interiors and Middle-Class Families in England, 1850-1910. It’s a fascinating book that has required me to pay much more attention to women’s writings about space and place. Hamlett draws our attention to particular rooms in the house, such as the drawing room, nursery, and marital bedroom to show how such domestic spaces could be both public and private. For pleasure, I’ve just finished Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy’s Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus and I’ve just started reading Priyamvada Gopal’s Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent. Gopal looks at the ways in which enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation and how their resistance and dissent influenced anti-colonial campaigners in London. I really recommend this book, particularly in light of #RhodesMustFall and the tearing down of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol.
 
How are you finding working from home? 
You know what? I’m finding work from home really tough! I find it hard to stay focused and I often find my mind wandering, which then makes me worry that I’ve not ‘achieved’ enough in the day. Recently, I’ve tried to set myself specific tasks to achieve such as reading an article or a chapter in a book, reading X number of pages of primary source material, jotting down potential activities for online teaching. I came across an interesting video on BBC Bitesize about toxic productivity and the need to feel like you’re doing something worthwhile, which really spoke to me. I’m now setting an intention to ensure that I include something in my day that makes me happy and that’s not work-related!
 
What advice would you like to give PhD students and early career researchers that you wish someone had said to you? 
This is a really hard question and I’m always so wary about giving advice, but I suppose three things: first, that you are more than your research. In academia in particular, it feels like your ‘worth’ is seemingly equated with your ability to publish, to capture grants etc. I’ve been guilty of losing myself in the race to publish more, to apply for more grants, and that’s been detrimental to my sense of self and worth. Secondly, trust your instincts and back yourself. I spent much of my PhD and the years afterwards worrying about what people would think about my research, whether it was good enough, whether I was falling short in some way. I’m five years out from my PhD now and I’m still learning to trust my instincts about why I think something is important or interesting. It’s really easy to externalise and seek that validation from others. I wish I’d known how toxic and destabilising that could be. Finally, it’s ok not to be ok. I know that sounds really trite, but I found the PhD and my time as an ECR very stressful and I wish I’d reached out to more people to let them know how hard I was finding it. I think this is why networks like Defence Research Network are really important and I wish it had existed when I was doing my own PhD!
 
What have you learnt from having your first monograph published?
… That compiling an index is super hard! More seriously, I’m trying to learn not to take bad reviews too personally. I recently read a review of my book on Amazon that remarked on my ‘turgid style’ that ‘will make your eyes glaze over every five minutes’. I was disproportionately upset about this review because I’d tried so hard to make a really quite complicated subject a bit more interesting and engaging. It’s not possible to make everyone happy. I’m really proud of the book and I think that’s really all that matters. I’ve also learnt that your opinions and arguments can change! Re-reading my book now, there are certainly areas that I disagree with or at least feel that I would nuance now. Learning to Fight is a snapshot of where my thinking was at and a reminder that we never stop growing or changing as researchers.

Thank you so much, Dr Fox! 
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. 
FICTION: Red Dress in Black and White, by Elliot Ackerman.
Former US Marine and author of 'Green on Blue', 'Dark at the Crossing', 'Waiting for Eden', and 'Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning' Elliot Ackerman is well known as a war novelist, memoirist, and journalist whose writing on the wars of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria have overturned 'the conventions of war fiction'. Despite moving away from the activity of soldiers in combat zones, his newest book 'Red Dress in Black and White' similarly details how intimate and geopolitical interests are entangled and underpinned by 'hidden machinations of power'This time, readers are transported to Istanbul, where 2013's Gezi Park protests provide the backdrop for a story of both an unhappy marriage and of a 'nation on the brink'.
Pick up your copy now! 
*CALL FOR PAPERS* The Open Review 2020

Stuck for things to do? Why don't you write for The Open Review? A student led, peer-reviewed journal for the social sciences, The Open Review is looking for submissions to its sixth edition! This is a great opportunity for students and young researchers to get publishing experience. This CFP is open to students of all levels of study, and they welcome a range of different article types - so get creative! The deadline for submissions is the 8th July 2020, and if you want to find more information and submission guidelines, check out their website here.   
Pause for thought...

Should science fiction be an essential part of a military officer's reading list? 

Major General Mick Ryan thinks so. On Grounded Curiosity blog, he discusses how reading science fiction has made him a better officer. Nurturing hope, innovation, intellectual diversity, and and a perception for the future of humanity and warfare, Major General Ryan is adamant that science fiction is a beneficial tool for any officer or officer-in-training. You can find Major General Ryan's sci-fi reading lists here and here. You can also peruse his reading list for 2020 here.


What do you think? Will you be heading straight to the sci-fi section? Or are you in agreement with the (now contested) study that found sci-fi to trigger 'poorer reading'?

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 defenceresearchnetwork@gmail.com 

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