Blog

How do anime and manga shape habits of visualising war and peace? An introduction… 28 July, 2022 - CONTENT AND SPOILER WARNING: This article discusses the series Avatar: The Last Airbender and Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) and includes mention of conflict, war, and some graphic violence.  “100% one of the best stories ever told” Tinseltopia (Reddit user) [ii] Hiya, I’m an undergraduate student and Laidlaw scholar investigating how popular anime/animated shows and manga/comics influence young […]
War Stories: How women visualise Conflict, Displacement and Home in the Central African Republic 26 July, 2022 - This guest post has been contributed by Pauline Zerla, a doctoral researcher in the department of War Studies at King’s College London. Her research mostly focuses on peacebuilding, trauma and mental health in conflict, and veterans’ return from war. Prior to her doctoral studies, she spent a decade working on project design and management in fragile […]
Women, War and Displacement in Antiquity 7 July, 2022 - As part of the Visualising War project’s research into the ripple effects of conflict, we are exploring how different art forms have visualised the rupture, loss and trauma of forced displacement. Undergraduate Research Assistant Holly Axford has been looking particularly at ancient narratives of displacement, and in this blog she writes about the representation of […]
Student team launches a virtual Museum of Peace 28 June, 2022 - A lot of museum space has been dedicated to war. Libraries and bookshops contain countless volumes of military history. Most of us can think of multiple war films. There are well-established traditions of war reporting and conflict photography. Peace, on the other hand…  We talk a lot less about peace. We aspire to peace, we […]
Young People’s Voices on the War in Ukraine 28 June, 2022 - What do children and young people have to say about the war in Ukraine? And what can we learn by listening to them?  In June 2022, the Visualising War project teamed up with the charity Never Such Innocence (NSI) to invite young people from all around the world to share their reflections on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine […]
Peace from Pieces 18 April, 2022 - In January 2022 a team of twelve undergraduate students at the University of St Andrews were selected to work on a ‘Vertically Integrated Project‘ called ‘Visualising Peace‘. Directed by Dr Alice König and supported by PG Mentor Jenny Oberholtzer, this project seeks to extend the work of the Visualising War project by examining how war’s aftermath, conflict […]
Human Nature and the Potential for Peace 15 April, 2022 - What can Modern History and Social Anthropology teach each other – and us – about past and present peace building? Peace is a concept that many feel familiar with – and yet clear-cut definitions are hard to pin down. Our research has shown that peace gets visualised and studied in very different ways both within […]
‘Blessed are the peacemakers’: international relations, peace and the way forward 23 February, 2022 - Few concepts are seemingly as basic yet as contested as ‘peace’. A coherent understanding of ‘peace’ and ‘peacebuilding’ has remained elusive in academia, with efforts to form an all-encompassing understanding of both hindered by a lack of inter-disciplinary communication and research. The University of St. Andrews Visualizing Peace project is seeking to change this. Alongside Dr. Alice […]
How can children and young people help us re-visualise war and peace? 18 February, 2022 - Regular listeners to the Visualising War podcast might remember that our first guest interview was with Lady Lucy French, the founder of Never Such Innocence, an organisation which gives children and young people a voice on conflict. We have been really inspired by their work, and as the podcast series has developed we have been […]
Visualisations of War in Online Gaming 2 February, 2022 - In a recent Visualising War podcast, Alice and Nicolas talked with Dr Iain Donald, a Senior Lecturer in Game Production at Abertay University. Iain works with talented colleagues, postgraduate researchers and undergraduates to explore what games and interactive media can achieve. He has been involved in several award-winning Applied Games projects, and has written and presented on […]
Painting Invisible Threats with Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox 9 January, 2022 - In one of our recent Visualising War podcast episodes, Alice interviewed award-winning artist Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox. Kathryn started painting as a child, selling her first piece of art at just 14 years old, winning her first major art competition at 16, and holding her first exhibition at 17. She has since exhibited not just in her native […]
Conflict Textiles 6 December, 2021 - As part of a mini-series of podcasts looking at artistic representations of and responses to conflict, we recently interviewed Roberta Bacic, a Chilean collector, curator and Human Rights advocate, about the ‘Conflict Textiles‘ collection which she helped to build and now oversees. In 2008, Roberta was involved as guest curator at an exhibition called ‘The […]
Drawing as War Reportage 6 December, 2021 - 'The Paul Nash of our era. No one has captured in art the destruction and suffering of modern warfare as powerfully. With his pen and brush he tells the stories of the suffering of the refugee and the migrant wherever the wars are in this turbulent world. There is terrible beauty in his drawings. He […]
‘Sorry for the War’: Peter Van Agtmael photographs America at War 29 November, 2021 - "Nearly twenty years after September 11, America’s recent wars are all but forgotten, though their consequences continue to reverberate. For the past fifteen of those years, I’ve documented the dissonance between the United States “at war” and the wars as they really are." Peter Van Agtmael, Disco Night Sept. 11. The Visualising War podcast recently interviewed award-winning photographer Peter […]
Visualising ‘Western War’? 17 November, 2021 - by Katarina Birkedal Originating as it did from the study of Greco-Roman antiquity, the Visualising War project has always been conscious of the risk that it might end up being too narrowly focused on Western traditions of thinking about and doing war. There are a number of reasons why this is a serious concern, first […]
The Poetics of the Punic Wars, by Thomas Biggs 14 November, 2021 - Dr Thomas Biggs is an expert on Roman Republican literature and author of Poetics of the First Punic War (Michigan, 2020). We interviewed him on the Visualising War podcast recently to find out more about Roman representations of war, and we learnt what a profound impact the Punic Wars had on Roman (and later) visualisations of conflict, conquest and empire. […]
Letter from a listener 6 November, 2021 - One of our regular podcast listeners – John Weeks – shared these reflections with us recently, inspired particularly by the episode we recorded with Prof. Anders Engberg-Pedersen on the impact of the Napoleonic wars: ‘Your podcasts have sent me back to Tolstoy. His short story of 1912, Hadji Murat, contains examples of ways in which […]
Re-presenting well-known conflicts: the Imperial War Museum’s new WWII Galleries 16 October, 2021 - The Visualising War podcast has recently been exploring the representation of war in museum spaces. In particular, we have been talking to curators at the Imperial War Museums about their recent redesign of their WWI and WWII Galleries. You can listen to two podcast episodes discussing each set of galleries here and here. In this blog, we feature […]
How is ancient warfare taught in schools? Part 1: Scotland, by Jana Mauri Marlborough 13 September, 2021 - Jana Mauri Marlborough is a third-year student in the School of Classics at the University of St Andrews. She recently worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant on the Visualising War project, to support a new strand of research into how ancient warfare is taught and assessed in schools. This research is still in its very […]
How is ancient warfare taught in schools? Part 2: England, by Anna Coopey 13 September, 2021 - Anna Coopey is a third-year student in the School of Classics at the University of St Andrews. She recently worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant on the Visualising War project (alongside Jana Mauri Marlborough), to support a new strand of research looking at how ancient warfare is taught and assessed in schools. This research is […]
Unsettled war stories: cosplay and the potential of resistant reproduction 1 August, 2021 - By Katarina Birkedal[i] In my previous thought piece, I wrote that in order to understand – and, ultimately, change – how war is perpetuated in deed and thought, we must pay attention to war narratives. In this thought piece, I want to argue through the example of cosplay that conscious reproduction – which is to say, […]
Visualising Strategy through Wargames and Crisis Simulations 5 July, 2021 - By Katarina Birkedal and Felipe Cruvinel In 1995, Baudrillard wrote The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. Contrary to the book’s controversial title, he did not claim that no military action took place. Rather, what Baudrillard was merely suggesting was that what we perceive as the first Gulf War was a copy of a copy […]
Visualising War in Children’s Books: Part 2 – Robert the Bruce 27 June, 2021 - One summer, illustrator and book designer Jim Hutcheson was exploring the wares in a small bookshop in Spain when he came across an illustrated history of the life of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, a Castilian knight also known as ‘El Cid’ or ‘El Campeador’. That got him thinking about the representation of other medieval warriors […]
Visualising War in Children’s Books: Part 1 23 June, 2021 - The Visualising War podcast recently interviewed artist Jill Calder, author James Robertson and illustrator/book designer Jim Hutcheson, who is Creative Director at the Scottish publishing company Birlinn Books. They shared some fascinating insights into the representation of war, conflict and violence in children’s literature, based on the work they did together to create an illustrated history of Robert the […]
Visualising World War I through Women’s Voices 21 June, 2021 - By Susan Werbe, dramaturg for the Great War Theatre Project: Messengers of a Bitter Truth, and co-librettist of Letters That You Will Not Get: Women’s Voices from the Great War. This blog was written to accompany a podcast episode featuring Letters That You Will Not Get. How do we encounter and visualise World War I? It […]
Why study war stories? 21 May, 2021 - Katarina Birkedal When I began my undergraduate degree here at the University of St Andrews in 2009, I did so with the wish to be absorbed into the words and worlds of others. I loved learning about other perspectives and fantasies through literature, and I enjoyed applying that understanding to new problems. Unexpectedly, it was […]
A Roman War Report 6 May, 2021 - The Visualising War podcast recently interviewed Roman historian Dr Jon Coulston about representations of war on Trajan’s column, a huge victory monument erected in Rome in 113 AD to commemorate the emperor Trajan’s victory over the Dacians.[I] As Jon explains in the podcast, Trajan reigned from 98-117 AD. In 101-2 and 105-6, he came into conflict with King Decebalus, whose kingdom […]
Capturing Conflict on Camera 28 April, 2021 - The Visualising War podcast recently interviewed photojournalist Hugh Kinsella Cunningham about his experiences of capturing conflict on camera in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Based in the DRC for just over two years, Hugh has been documenting a range of humanitarian crises, from the impacts of Ebola to the mass displacements that have occurred as a result of the […]
Never Such Innocence: giving young people a voice on conflict 9 April, 2021 - Alice König discusses the work of Never Such Innocence, a charity which gives children and young people important opportunities to express how they feel about conflict. The blog contains some of the poetry and artwork discussed in our podcast.
Iraqi Women, Art and War 31 March, 2021 - Alice König reflects on what she learnt from Iraqi artist Rana Ibrahim about the ways in which representations of ordinary things can challenge and stretch our visualisation of war and amplify the voices of ordinary people.
Art and War: an interview with Diana Forster 31 March, 2021 - Alice König discusses some of the pieces which artist Diana Forster talks about in her podcast interview, reflecting on the use of beauty, nature and irony to tell less familiar stories of war.
What do we mean by ‘War’? 31 March, 2021 - Postdoctoral researcher Katarina Birkedal discusses the slipperiness of ‘war’ as a concept, and our project’s broad interest in many ‘theatres’ and forms of war. She also stresses that our habits of visualising war not only influence how we define it in words but how we perpetrate it in practice.
Staging War Stories 22 March, 2021 - Alice König reflects on some fascinating discussions with theatre, film and documentary makers about habits of dramatising war on stage and screen.
What do we mean by ‘Visualising War’? 18 March, 2021 - Postdoctoral researcher Katarina Birkedal discusses the difference between the visual and visualising: ‘visualising war’ is not inherently bound up with visual war, but rather with how we imagine, figure, evoke, relate and understand war.