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Department of Sociology




22-23 September 2022

University of Cambridge


Department of Sociology
with support from the ESRC


Keynote speakers:
Prof. Sunny Xiang (Yale)

Prof. Neel Ahuja (UMD)

In the 21st century, when we are said to be living in unprecedented times, what does it take to make war? Visions conflict as to the future of war, and what it means to be at war now. At the same time as “great-power competition” is widely considered resurgent, war has become global in seemingly new ways with the integration of technologies and tactics that trouble conventional distinctions between war and peace. Growing interconnectivity seems to herald a new complexity. However, the patterns and long continuities of state violence raise questions about what might be obscured through such claims of newness. What, if anything, is new in the new new wars? What does it take to make war seem foreign, and who gets to be “outside” of war, unimplicated in the violence of the state? What, if anything, remains untouched by this violence?

This two-day conference aims to prompt a fresh reckoning with the very foundations necessary for making, and making sense of, war, empire, peace, and security in the present. Critical scholars increasingly recognize the artificiality and the coloniality of divides inherent in many accounts of state violences – for instance, between the “domestic” and the “foreign.” However, challenges remain in untangling how state violences work through both the highly particular and local, and through broader global systems of power.

This conference proceeds from a place of critical and interdisciplinary reckoning with such divisions, with an emphasis on exercises of power that structure the very socio-political. What could happen if we set aside comfortable frames: if we “forgot militarization,” as Alison Howell has urged (2018), or if we looked beneath the presumptions built into concepts like militarism? Interrogation of police and military violence have troubled distinctions made between the two (Schrader 2019; Estes 2019; Singh 2017; Gouldhawke 2020; Manso 2016; Seigel 2017) and raised questions fundamental to any analysis of war. How and why is state violence organized, how is it justified, and why does it take the forms it does? Are the answers to these questions changing in the 21st century? What might be made visible with a re-cognition and centering of the fundamentals of war and the “military” and the range of violences of the present: of empire, settler colonialism, police, race, gender, the “human”?

And if state violences "[tie] our fates together" (Paik 2017, 18), how do people take hold of such connections to resist, create, and envision another world? How might abolitionism as a "praxis of creativity" (Rodríguez 2019, 1612) provide ways into thinking and acting otherwise at a time when war - in whatever forms it may take - is so deeply integrated into the everyday?

View the provisional conference program here


Registration for the conference is free. Please follow the link below:

Beyond Militarism conference registration


This conference is planned as a hybrid event, with both in-person and online access. Masking is encouraged for in-person attendees. In-person access to the conference venue will be on the ground floor of Alison Richard Building and fully accessible.


Please direct any enquiries to the conference organizer, Dr. Lena Moore, at



Thursday, 22 September, 2022 - 09:45 to Friday, 23 September, 2022 - 17:30
Event location: 
Alison Richard Building (Ground Floor)