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Visualising War

Author: The University of St Andrews

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How do war stories work? And what do they do to us? Join University of St Andrews historians Alice König and Nicolas Wiater as they explore how war and battle get presented in art, text, film and music. With the help of expert guests, they unpick war stories from all sorts of different periods and places. And they ask how the tales we tell and the pictures we paint of war influence us as individuals and shape the societies we live in.
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This week Alice and Nicolas return to the Imperial War Museum, with the second episode of our mini-series on the recently redesigned WWI, WWII and Holocaust Galleries. Last episode focussed on the WWI Galleries; in this episode we take a closer look at the WWII and Holocaust Galleries, which open to the public on the 20th of October. Among our guests we welcome back Vikki Hawkins and Kate Clements, the curators of the WWII Galleries; and we also have with us James Bulgin, the content lead for the Holocaust Gallery. They give us exclusive and in-depth insight into the design and aims of the galleries, the planning process, and the spectacular and often poignant objects which visitors are able to see and experience  first hand, many for the very first time, from the UK and all over the world. Among other topics, we discuss how our ways of visualising WWII and the Holocaust have changed over the past decades and how those changes are reflected in the design of the galleries what sorts of objects are visible at the galleries and what kinds of stories these objects can tell us wide-spread myths about WWII and the Holocaust which the new galleries seek to challenge the responsibilities involved in visualising such highly sensitive topics as the WWII and the Holocaust, and what effect the stories we tell about these events have had and might have on us the challenges involved in presenting a global conflict in all its diversity, while making ample room for the many personal voices from all over the world to be heard ways to make objects tell those personal stories and prompt us to engage into a dialogue with them and - through them - with each other James’, Vikki’s and Kate’s favourite objects, and how the WWII and Holocaust Galleries fit into the IWM’s representation of war and conflict more broadly We hope you enjoy the episode!   Listeners who want to see some of the objects mentioned by Kate and Vikki can read about them in this blog. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please listen here. Also, if you haven't heard it already don't forget to check out the first episode of this two-part mini series, in which we discuss the IWM’s recently redesigned WWI Galleries. To find out more about the WWI, WWII and Holocaust Galleries, do visit the website of the Imperial War Museum. Also be sure to keep an eye out for the richly illustrated book accompanying the opening of the WWII Gallery and co-authored by our guests Vikki and Kate as well as Paul Cornish, with a foreword by Margaret MacMillan:Total War. A People's History of World War II (Thames&Hudson). James Bulgin has also written a brand new book on the Holocaust, featuring many personal stories and objects - it is available as an audiobook here.  For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young  Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin  
In this week’s podcast, Alice and Nicolas discuss strategy with Prof. Phillips O’Brien. Phil joined the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews in 2016 as Professor of Strategic Studies; he also directs the university’s interdisciplinary Institute for the Study of War and Strategy, which has some obvious areas of overlap with the Visualising War project. His interests in warfare and strategy range widely, with a particular focus on the early twentieth century. Most recently, in 2019 Phil finished his biography of Admiral William D Leahy, Roosevelt’s Chief of Staff and (as Phil puts it in the title) the ‘second most powerful man in the world’, who became de facto president of the United States when Roosevelt’s health started to fail. Strategic studies look at how decisions about war (including avoidance of war and concluding them through treaties) are made at the highest political level, and what influence those decisions have on the course of wars and battles. Strategy-making is an act of visualisation in itself; and of course it can be heavily influenced by past habits of visualising war.  We discuss the connection between strategy-making and storytelling, and how descriptions of strategy end up shaping the ways we visualise individual conflicts and war more broadly.  Among other topics, we talk about: The role of grand strategies in wars from antiquity via WWII to more recent conflicts in the Middle East – do grand strategies win wars? How our understanding of and approaches to grand strategy have changed over time, and how they might develop in the future What shapes generals’ and politicians’ strategic decision-making, including the influence of past war stories in promoting particular 'strategic' mindsetsWhether you can teach and learn strategy, and the best ways to do that, including war gaming How grand strategy is visualised and narrated, and how it coexists and sometimes competes with other narratives Whether it makes sense to wage wars at all We hope you enjoy the episode! For a version of our podcast with close captions, please listen here. You can find out more about Phil O’Brien’s work on his website at the University of St Andrews; also be sure to check out the website of the university’s Institute for the Study of War and Strategy.  For more information about the Visualising War project, individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
This week Alice and Nicolas have a special treat for you: the first episode of a two-part mini-series on the Imperial War Museum’s recently redesigned WWI, WWII and Holocaust Galleries. The WWI Galleries are already open to the public and will be the focus of this week’s episode. In a couple of weeks, the second part of this mini-series will then take a closer look at the WWII and Holocaust Galleries, which will open on the 20th of October 2021.With us on the show today are Sir Hew Strachan, a world-leading authority on Britain’s military history and WWI in particular, and academic advisor on the 2014 design of the WWI Galleries; James Taylor, Assistant Director Narrative and Content at the Imperial War Museums; and Vicki Hawkins and Kate Clements, curators for the IWM's new WWII galleries. They give us exclusive insight into the planning and processes behind this enormous project of redesigning the galleries, which make thousands of objects come to life, many for the first time.Among other topics, we discuss–      the influence of wide-spread myths about WWI, the need to bust those myths and the best ways to do that–      the collaboration between curators and academic advisors and trustees–      the history and development of the Imperial War Museum and its approach to narrating past and present conflicts–      the challenges involved in presenting a global conflict in all its diversity, doing justice to its impact on the home front just as much as to the events and suffering in so many different theatres of war across the world–      the challenges of making individual, personal voices heard while setting them in their global context–      the processes of selecting objects and the best ways to narrate their story–      James, Hew, Vicki and Kate’s favourite objects, and–      how the work on the WWI galleries has influenced the design of the WWII and Holocaust galleriesWe hope you enjoy the episode!  For a version of our podcast with close captions, please listen here. To find out more about the IWM's WWI, WWII and Holocaust Galleries, do visit the website of the Imperial War Museum and for more background about modern wars and conflicts, be sure to tune in to James Taylor’s new podcast series, Conflict of Interest. For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this episode, Alice talks to acclaimed composer Dr Anthony Ritchie about his oratorio 'Gallipoli to the Somme', which was commissioned for the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and City Choir Dunedin as part of the centenary commemorations of the First World War. Also joining us is Dr Kate Kennedy, a musician, librettist and expert on the poetry and songs of WW1. Both have lots to say about how music can deepen our understanding of war and its impacts.  Kate has recently published a biography of the poet and composer Ivor Gurney, and that gets us chatting about the mix of high-brow poetry and more bawdy trench song which have together shaped our habits of visualising the First World War.  A soldier during the war, Gurney suffered a series of breakdowns and spent his last fifteen years confined to a mental asylum. The songs he composed reflect real tensions in the ways in which he and his contemporaries regarded the war, for example by undercutting celebratory verses with disturbing harmonies that evoke violence and trauma. Anthony's oratorio similarly plays with ironic contrasts between words and music, making use of silence as well as well-known musical quotations to weave a narrative about the First World War that captures many perspectives. Based on Alexander Aitken's book 'Gallipoli to the Somme', the oratorio includes a Maori war song, German Lieder, contemporary folk songs, a battle plan set to music, and the words attributed to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of the Republic of Turkey, inscribed on the Ari Burnu Memorial, Gallipoli. The composition process got Anthony thinking about the purpose of performing war history; the most effective ways to represent war in music and words; what it means to commemorate war and the dangers of distorting reality to make war more manageable for audiences; and how commemorations can critique as well as celebrate past conflicts. Among other questions, Alice asked:how differently is WW1 remembered in New Zealand compared with elsewhere?what forms of commemoration or storytelling dominate our habits of visualising WW1?what impact did centenary commemorations have on how we view this well-known conflict?what different musical responses to WW1 have there been over the last century?what challenges and opportunities do composers wrestle with when representing war in music?what musical styles did Anthony adopt in his oratorio, Gallipoli to the Somme, and why?how might this oratorio change or develop the ways in which we look back on WW1 today?We hope you enjoy the episode! You can listen to the whole of Anthony's oratorio 'Gallipoli to the Somme' here; it is one of the most moving and thought-provoking representations of the First World War in existence. Kate's latest book, 'Dweller in Shadows: A Life of Ivor Gurney', is also a tour de force, and will make you want to dive deeper into Gurney's works; you can purchase it here. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this episode, Alice and Nicolas interview Prof. Anders Engberg-Pedersen, Professor of Comparative Literature  at the University of Southern Denmark. Anders is the author of Empire of Chance, published in 2015, which argues that the Napoleonic Wars not only changed the nature of warfare but also revolutionised people's understanding of chance, contingency and probability, inspiring a new discourse of knowledge. He has also edited volumes on Literature and Cartography, exploring how different kinds of texts visualise space, and Visualizing War: Emotions, Technologies, Communities, which explores the emotional language of images of war, and how they build emotional communities as well as impacting on individuals' emotions.In the podcast, we talk about the impact which war has on culture and society, as well as the impact which culture and society have on war. Anders explains that the scale of the Napoleonic Wars resulted in a shift in how comprehensible people thought war was, with a move from universal principles, geometric representations and scientific discussions to an emphasis on chaos, uncertainty and the fog of war. This was felt in literature as well as military theory, with authors like Balzac, Stendhal and Tolstoy reflecting on the difficulties of describing war and opting to narrate individual perspectives alongside - or instead of - sweeping panoramas. Anders also discusses the origins of wargaming in the Napoleonic period, and the ways in which wargaming ever since has trained people's emotions as well as their physical and cognitive skills. Along the way, he reflects on the complex emotional impact of many different visual images of war, and the ways in which militaries often co-opt the language of art to talk about war as a creative endeavour, full of design. War shapes knowledge and narrative forms, and they in turn shape how war is visualised and pursued. Among other questions, we asked Anders:How and why did concepts of war shift in the Napoleonic era?In what sense did war become a 'problem of knowledge', with uncertainty outweighing certainty?How did these changes in war itself and the way it was visualised affect how people wrote about it and trends in representation? What new 'poetics of war' emerged? And what media came to dominate?In what sense do representations of war like maps and virtual reality games act simulate war itself, enabling readers to immerse themselves rather than just visualising from afar?What emotional impact do representations of war in different media have on individuals and communities? And to what use are they put?Anders' insights into the complex relationship between war, knowledge and narrative touch on issues that go right to the heart of the Visualising War project. We hope you enjoy the episode! For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this episode, Alice interviews historian Dr Omar Mohammed, founder of the acclaimed Mosul Eye blog. When ISIS captured Mosul in 2014, Omar began posting regular updates to keep people informed and to counter misinformation – and his blog became a vital source of information both for those within the city and the wider world. He posted regularly throughout the occupation and liberation of Mosul, and has since turned his attention to Mosul’s recovery, using the blog to promote cross-cultural understanding as well as raising Mosul’s profile internationally. Mosul Eye has a lot to teach us about representations of conflict, particularly those that are produced while a war is ongoing, and it is a real testament to what the public documentation of a war can achieve, in the aftermath as well as during a conflict.In the podcast, Omar explains that he began keeping a diary to document what life was like on the ground during conflict after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, it was only in 2014 when ISIS/Daesh captured Mosul, that he started blogging publicly, with no idea at the time how long his blog - or the occupation - would last. As a historian, he wanted to provide the people of Mosul and wider audiences with accurate accounts of events as they were unfolding in real time; but he also used the blog to preserve the names of victims and build up a reliable record for posterity, so that future generations could understand what went on.  Crucially, his blog posts narrated many small, everyday details, painting a holistic picture of the conflict rather than focusing on major events. His correction of fake news and exposure of atrocities meant that he and the blog were targeted by Daesh, but he persevered despite the risks, viewing his writing as a way to fight back. Over time, Mosul Eye became so well known that major news organisations turned to it to verify or flesh out their stories, and Omar was able to leverage the growing influence he had to help rescue people and families from the city and collect books for the University's stricken library. Since Mosul's liberation, Omar has used his position to put Mosul on the global map in positive ways, building bridges between different communities and kick-starting a major tree-planting programme, to help the people of Mosul visualise a greener, more peaceful future and to connect them to wider efforts to address climate change. His blog has helped him and others to grasp the profound and sometimes unseen destruction that war brings; but it also testifies to the power of history writing and digital media to promote peace, healing and renewal. Among other questions, Alice asked:what prompted Omar to begin blogging as 'Mosul Eye' in 2014 and what his initial goal waswhat aspects of the occupation and liberation he decided to focus on, and whyhow the people of Mosul, the media and the wider international community responded to Mosul Eyewhat role his blog played in the 'information war' which accompanies conflict in the digital agehow different live blogging is from writing the history of a conflict with the benefit of hindsightwhat role blogging can play in helping people visualise peace/renewal as well as warWe hope you enjoy the episode! To find out more about Mosul Eye, please visit the website. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
‘The non-violent Syrian uprising that turned into an armed conflict was born digital and networked from the very moment an unarmed activist used a smartphone camera to shoot while an armed man raised his gun to shoot at him.’ Donatella della Ratta, Shooting a Revolution: Visual Media and Warfare in Syria (2018).In this week's episode, Alice and Nicolas interview Dr Donatella della Ratta, Associate Professor of Communications and Media Studies at John Cabot University in Rome. Donatella specialises in Arabic-speaking media. She lived in Damascus from 2007 to 2011, so Syrian media became a particular area of focus for her – and particularly the use made of iphones, youtube and online media to document what was happening as civil protests turned to civil war from 2011 onwards. She has professional experience as a journalist and TV producer, and managed the Arabic speaking community of the international NGO Creative Commons from 2008-2013. Alongside her expertise in media, Donatella is interested in storytelling across different art forms. She has curated several art exhibitions and film programmes on Syria, and she co-founded ‘Syria Untold’, an online platform for independent writers to share stories about peace and war in Syria which might otherwise be unheard. In the podcast, we talk about the impact which the so-called 'digital revolution' has had on how people experience, communicate, visualise and even conduct war. Donatella discusses the rise of citizen journalism and hand-held film-making as new ways to document and communicate conflicts as they unfold; but we also reflect on more sinister developments such as the use of social media to spread misinformation and generate violence. As Donatella puts it in her book Shooting a Revolution, 'Syria is the first fully developed networked battleground in which the technological infrastructure supporting practices of uploading, sharing and remixing, together with the human network of individuals engaged in those practices, have become dramatically implicated in the production and reproduction of violence.' We discuss the increased visibility of modern conflict, but also the role played by social media organisations in preserving, censoring and deleting content - which can limit our collective memory of individual conflicts and our wider habits of visualising war. Ending on a more upbeat note, we talk about the ways in which campaigners and activists can harness blogs and other forms of digital media to broaden public understanding of conflict and its impacts. Among other questions, we asked Donatella:compared with traditional media, what impact can digital media have on how conflicts are reported, represented and understood?when peaceful protests turned violent in Syria, what use did people make of digital media and why?in what ways can digital media drive (and not just document) conflict?  what role might social media providers play in shaping current and future habits of visualising war?how did the rise of citizen journalism in Syria turn into a thriving new film industry?how can the publication of blogs via online platforms like Syria Untold broaden our habits of visualising war?We hope you enjoy the episode! For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this episode, Alice and Nicolas interview Dr Frank Möller, a researcher at the Tampere Peace Research Institute, Finland. Frank studies peace photography - both how photography can represent peace, and how such representations can contribute to peace. He has published several books on this topic, including Visual Peace: Images, Spectatorship and the Politics of Violence (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Peace Photography  (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). He also leads a project on 'peace videography' and is co-founder of https://www.imageandpeace.com, a hub for researchers, artists and anyone interested in the link between visual culture and peace. In the podcast, we ask Frank what distinguishes 'peace photography' from other kinds of photography. That gets us talking about the long tradition of war photography, 'anti-war' photography, and the tendency to define and represent peace in relation to war - for example, by visualising peace through images of aftermath or post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction. Frank argues for a broader approach to peace photography, and discusses the power of images of 'everyday peace' even in the midst of a war. He argues that if we can capture images of everyday peaceful practices, their momentum might grow and they might go on to generate more peaceful practices in turn. We also talk about the role that images of peace can play in mediation processes, through 'active looking'. As Frank puts it in one of his books, 'images reflect the world; in order to change the world, we need to change the images we see.' Among other questions, we asked Frank:is it easier to represent war than peace - or, at least, to represent cliches of war and peace?why is there no easily recognised tradition of 'peace photography' as there is for war photography?what role does photography play alongside other media (texts, films, works of art, etc) in shaping our habits of visualising war and peace?how can efforts to represent or visualise 'pockets' or 'islands' of everyday peace engender more peaceful practices in the wider world? How can we build peace with images?We hope you enjoy the episode! For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. To find out more about Frank's work, you can visit his project website where he invites anyone interested in building peace with images to get involved.  For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this episode, Alice interviews a journalist from Afghanistan about the events of August 2021, when the Taliban seized control of the country. They discuss the complex series of conflicts and international interventions that led up to the Taliban takeover, going back over several decades, and the ways in which wars of the past have been represented and (mis)understood. They also talk about the importance of hearing from local voices, not just international journalists and politicians, in making sense of Afghanistan's past and present; and the urgent need to listen to local voices for future conflict resolution and peacebuilding.  This episode was recorded on 25th August, 2021. Out of concern for his safety, we are not publishing the journalist's name. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about our project, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this week's episode, Alice talks to Dr Emily Mayhew, a historian of medicine at Imperial College, London. Emily specialises in the study of severe casualty - its infliction, treatment and long-term outcomes in 20th and 21st century warfare. Recently, she has worked particularly closely with researchers and staff at the Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies, based at Imperial College, and she is part of the team that put together the ground-breaking Paediatric Blast Injury Field Manual. She has published a trilogy of books on war wounds from WW1 to Afghanistan: 'Wounded: the Long Journey Home from the Great War', 'The Guinea Pig Club: Archibald McIndoe and the RAF in World War Two', and 'A Heavy Reckoning: War, Medicine and Survivial in Afghanistan and Beyond'. In the podcast we also talk about her latest book, 'The Four Horsemen: War, Pestilence, Famine and Death, and the Hope of a New Age'. The episode begins with Emily discussing the kinds of wounds that became a common feature of the two World Wars, what those wounds can tell us about the political and military strategies that were being followed, and how medical science adapted to treat them. With advances in medical practice, more and more servicemen ended up surviving their wounds - and that gets us talking about public perceptions of injury and disability. In contrast to soldiers who lost limbs during WW1, for example, pilots who survived terrible burns during WW2 often found themselves feted by an admiring public. That gets us thinking about the experience of more recent veterans, from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the profound effects that blast injuries have long after the blast itself. Emily touches on the foundation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the birth of humanitarianism - and what happened in 2016 in Mosul, when for the first time in its history the Red Cross did not get involved. We discuss the role of historians alongside medics and humanitarian organisations in providing a line of defence against War, Pestilence, Famine and Death - and how valuable those ancient Horsemen are in helping us visualise what is at stake. Along the way, Emily stresses the disproportionate impact of war and man-made famines on children - the often unseen victims of conflict. Among other questions, Alice asked: how do wounds help us visualise war itself?what 'iconic' wounds do we associate with different wars, and why?what wounds remain less visible, or less understood?how has the general public responded to war wounds over time, and what has shaped their understanding and attitudes?how interconnected is the history of warfare and the history of medicine?what difference does it make to visualise war as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? how optimistic should we feel about our ability to keep those Horsemen at bay in future? We hope you enjoy the episode! *Please note: this episode was recorded in spring 2021, before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. Some references to Afghanistan are therefore out of date. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this week's episode, Alice and Nicolas talk to producer and director Sam Taplin about representations of war in TV documentaries. Sam has worked in a variety of genres, from factual programmes to drama documentaries. He has credits with Channel 4, Channel 5, Netflix, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and PBS, among others, and has particularly specialised in documentaries on the Second World War. He talks about the pragmatics of documentary making, what kinds of audiences different production companies are trying to engage, and what difference all of that makes to the war stories they tell. In the podcast, we chat about why some wars lend themselves more to documentary making than others: the lack of visuals and the challenges of reconstructing ancient and medieval battle scenes make them less popular with directors, for example, while the attritional grind of WW1 and the lack of 'action' in the Cold War tend to put both producers and audiences off. The Second World War, by contrast, lends itself more to engaging storytelling, with a mix of human endeavour and technological innovation, an easily identifiable 'baddie', and a succession of dramas on land, sea and air. This gets us talking about the 'narrative arcs' which documentaries often try to create around historical events, particularly when channels are trying to keep audiences beyond the next ad break. We discuss how selective the storytelling sometimes is, and how the desire to narrate crisis and climax can distort historical reality. Sam reflects on the tension between entertainment and education, and we talk about the influence which historical documentaries can have in cementing ideas about what different wars were like, what triggered or prolonged them, and how they were resolved.  We also chat about the limits of representation: for example, how much of the horrors of war are production companies or audiences willing to visualise?Among other questions, we asked Sam: how popular are war documentaries with TV production companies and audiences, and which wars are people most interested in?who/what decides which aspects of a conflict a documentary should focus on? (audience expectations, the need to 'entertain', the need for a new 'angle', academic input, etc?)what aspects of conflict are less often represented, and why? how have war documentaries changed over time, and what trends might we expect in future?what impact do war documentaries have today on our habits of visualising war?We hope you enjoy the episode!*Please note: this episode was recorded in spring 2021, before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. Some references to Afghanistan are therefore out of date.For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this week's episode, Alice interviews Anthony Borden, Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Founded 30 years ago, the IWPR thinks globally but works locally, fostering grassroots journalism in many different parts of the world. Via training, mentoring and support on the ground, it empowers local journalists and civil society groups to tackle disinformation and to inform, educate and mobilise their own communities. Its mission is to 'give voice to people at the frontlines of conflict and transition to help them drive change'. Alice and Tony chat about the IWPR's history - how it came into being in the 1990s during the wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia, and then expanded in the aftermath of 9/11. They discuss how war and peace reporting has changed over the years, particularly with the advent of digital media and the rise of citizen journalism. Fake news and the increasing 'fog of war' makes accurate, reliable reporting more important than ever, but journalists operate in increasingly hostile environments, with the tracking of their digital 'footprints' often adding to physical threats on the ground. Tony explains what impact mentoring by experienced journalists can have in supporting journalists and activists who are working in challenging environments and in encouraging new voices to emerge. He reveals that Malala Yousafzai first started out as a trainee on the IWPR's Open Minds project, before becoming a trainer herself. As the episode goes on, he reflects on the vital role that good journalism can play, not only in reporting accurately on wars but in reducing the drivers of conflict.  As he puts it, the principles of good journalism - facts, balance, fairness and decency of tone - are foundational tools in conflict resolution. Among other questions, Alice asked: what inspired the foundation of the IWPR, and how was its mission defined?what role can or should journalism play in conflict zones and peace processes?what difference does it make to empower marginalised voices during conflicts and periods of transition? And what risks do we face if we do not support voices on the ground to have their say and drive change ?how might war and peace reporting change in the coming decades?what work will the IWPR be prioritising to meet the challenges of the future and continue supporting war and peace reporting around the world?We hope you enjoy the episode!For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. You can find out more about the work of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting on their website. As an NGO, they rely on fundraising to keep their important work going; so if you have been inspired by what you have heard, please do consider pressing the red 'donate' button to contribute.  For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this episode, Alice and Nicolas interview Ewan Downie, an actor, writer, director and co-founder of the Company of Wolves, a laboratory theatre company whose mission is to make compelling drama ‘that speaks directly to the times in which we live’.  Ewan recently staged a one-man show that explored the story of Achilles, an ancient Greek warrior made famous by Homer's epic poem The Iliad, which tells the story of the Trojan War - a topic we touched on in last week's podcast with NMT Automatics.In this episode we talk about why the character of Achilles has always fascinated people and what kind of hero he actually is. As Ewan puts it, 'Setting Achilles on an army is a bit like a drone strike, nobody else has a chance - and yet we call this person a hero.' That gets us chatting about what we value in warriors, and what our heroisation of figures like Achilles can tell us about our wider habits of visualising and justifying acts of war. We also discuss the role that myths and archetypes can play in helping us understand our own impulses and behaviours - and how Ewan's representation of Achilles got audiences asking huge questions like 'why do we still kill each other?' In Ewan's words, mythology is a great tool in shaking us up and making us wonder who we are and what we want to be.  Among other questions, we asked:How influential are ancient war stories on modern habits of visualising war?What aspects of Achilles' story and character did Ewan want to emphasise, and why?How have audiences responded to Ewan's harrowing representation of Achilles' rage and grief?Could his deconstruction of the 'hero' Achilles be seen as 'anti war'?What impact does he think theatre can have on how we see, question and understand conflict across time?We hope you enjoy the episode!For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. You can find out more about Ewan's work and find clips of his plays on the Company of Wolves website. For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this episode, Alice and Nicolas interview members of NMT Automatics, a theatre company which specialises in updating ancient myths for modern audiences. Co-founders Jennie Dunne and Jonathan Young have been working with director Andres Velasquez and dramaturg Mairin O'Hagan to develop a new play, Tempus Fugit: Troy and Us, which weaves together an Ancient Greek war story from Homer's Iliad with the tale of a modern military couple, Alec and Bea. The Visualising War project has been feeding into their research process, so we enjoyed catching up with them to find out how the play has evolved.In the podcast, we talk about how ancient models of military heroism can both help and hamper our visualisations of war today, and the NMTA team explain how they use ancient characters like Hector, Achilles, Ajax and Andromache to raise important questions about how war is imagined and experienced in the 21st century. They talk about the role that theatre and storytelling can play in deepening understanding of what soldiers, civilians and families go through, and how their play ended up focusing on the experiences of the military spouse. As they explain, what partners of serving soldiers go through is not discussed very often; but those partners spend a lot of time trying to visualise the wars which their loved ones are fighting in or preparing for, so they offer a fascinating perspective from which to explore wider habits of visualising war. Along the way, we chat about the cliches that often crop up when war is represented on stage and screen, and the important work that plays like Tempus Fugit can do in challenging assumptions and offering different viewpoints.Among other questions, we asked: What films/war stories shaped their habits of visualising war in the past? What cliches about conflict do stage and screen dramatisations tend to reinforce? And what role can theatre play in challenging those cliches?What can ancient war stories bring to modern understandings of war and conflict?What connections do they draw between the experiences of Hector and Andromache in the Trojan war and modern conflict/military culture as experienced by Alex and Bea?Why did they end up focusing on military spouses/partners, and what does that angle bring to the wider study of war?What impact do they hope their new play, Tempus Fugit, will have on military and civilian audiences?We hope you enjoy the episode!For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. To find out more about the wider research we have been doing into dramatisations of war on stage and screen, you can read this blog. For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this episode, Alice and Nicolas interview the editors of Ancient Warfare Magazine - Jasper Oorthuys and Murray Dahm. Founded in 2007, Ancient Warfare examines the military history of many different ancient cultures in Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, with a particular focus on Greece and Rome from around 1200BC to 600AD. It has thousands of readers all around the world – and thousands tune in to the Ancient Warfare podcast. We ask Jasper and Murray what their readers are looking for and what goes into the creation of each issue. That gets us chatting about the enduring appeal of ancient military history, the challenges of reconstructing what ancient warfare was really like, and what we gain from learning about and trying to visualise ancient warfare.Among other questions, we asked:Does Ancient Warfare Magazine foreground some aspects of war more than others? What aspects does it cover less often, and why?How do the editors balance readers' expectations and habits of visualising ancient warfare with what their authors want to communicate and new advances in research?What role do illustrations play alongside textual descriptions in bringing ancient warfare to life for modern readers? And how much creative interpretation goes into the magazine's artistic reconstructions of ancient warfare?What factors influence modern reconstructions or visualisations of ancient warfare?What challenges and responsibilities does the magazine industry/popular press have to think about when representing ancient warfare in the 21st century?We hope you enjoy the episode! For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. If you want to find out more about Ancient Warfare Magazine, you can look up their latest issues here and listen to their podcast here.For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this episode, Alice interviews artist Jill Calder, author James Robertson and illustrator/book designer Jim Hutcheson, who is Creative Director at the Scottish publishing company Birlinn Books.  One summer, Jim 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 in literature, especially in children’s books, and inspired him to commission Jill and James to create a new illustrated history of Robert the Bruce, published in 2014. Robert the Bruce is famous for many reasons, but particularly for leading the First War of Scottish Independence; so Jill, James and Jim quickly began wrestling with how to represent war and violence in art and text, with a young readership in mind. In the podcast, we discuss the decisions they took about how to represent iconic battles and acts of cruelty that today might count as war crimes. We talk about the layers that art can add to text, and vice versa; their memories of begin fascinated as well as horrified by the war stories they came across as children; how young readers can blur but also distinguish between fact and fiction; and the role that historical war stories can play in prompting young people to ask important questions about modern conflicts and war in general. Among other questions, Alice asked:How has the representation of war in children’s books changed over time?When telling the story of Robert the Bruce, which aspects of battle and war did Jill, James and Jim particularly want to highlight?Were there some aspects of war/violence which they opted not to represent?How have children responded to the book's depiction of medieval warfare?What responsibilities do children's publishers, authors and illustrators have when depicting war for young people in the 21st century?How might the representation of war in children's literature change over the next few decades?We hope you enjoy the episode! For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. If you want to find out more about our conversation, you can read these two blogs here and here.For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
In this episode, Alice and Nicolas interview Prof. Kate McLoughlin. A Professor of English at Oxford University and Tutorial Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Kate works on the representation of war in literature in many different genres, from the ancient world to the present day. Among other books, she is the author of Martha Gellhorn: The War Writer in the Field and in the Text, which explores Gellhorn's fictional writing alongside her journalism. She also wrote Authoring War: The Literary Representation of War from the Iliad to Iraq; and, most recently, Veteran Poetics: British Literature in the Age of Mass Warfare, 1790-2015. She is currently working on a literary history of silence, partly inspired by her research into veteran experiences and their representation. In Authoring War, Kate argues that ‘war, as a subject, is the greatest test of a writer’s skills of evocation’ - so in the podcast we talk about some of the challenges involved in representing war in writing: for example, how authors convey a structured sense of time as events unfold, how they conjure the physical dimensions of a war zone and spatial awareness, and how they describe the indescribable. Kate explains the term 'combat gnosticism' - the idea that authors must know what they are talking about, either through going to war themselves or seeing it close up - and how that has traditionally marginalised women writers on war. She also talks about the expectations which readers have of war stories (that they will be vivid, full of action and emotion, etc) and what happens when authors or narrators do not meet those expectations - for example, the veteran who prefers not to speak of his/her experiences. As the conversation goes on, we discuss the ways in which war stories from the past not only influence later representations of war but also how people actually experience conflict in real time - which then feeds back into a network of established war stories, making it difficult to distinguish representation from reality. Among other questions, we asked Kate: What does the study of war writing bring to wider studies of war and conflict? How do age-old war stories continue to influence war writing and the experience of war today? What challenges do war writers face when trying to convey the complexities of war?  What do readers/audiences tend to expect of war writing, and why? Have some genres of war writing been more dominated by male or female voices, and has that changed over time? What groups of people or conflict experiences have often been marginalised by traditions of war writing? How has the literary representation of veterans changed over time? What can the study of silence bring to our understanding and appreciation of war stories?  We hope you enjoy the episode! For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. You can find out more about Kate's research here. For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  Music composed by Jonathan Young Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
What are the cultural legacies of visualising war through wargames?  Wargames are not a new phenomenon; in military exercises, as tactical plays tested on maps and as entertainment spectacles, wargames have been with us from ancient times. Studying wargames allows us to better understand the fog of war, as well as giving us nuanced insights into the processes by which military strategy is visualised and drilled into the martial and civilian body. How do we game war? And what does the history of wargaming tell us about its use today?Aggie Hirst, Senior Lecturer, Department of War Studies, King’s College LondonDr Aggie Hirst’s work focuses on international political theory and critical military studies. She is currently Principal Investigator on a Leverhulme Trust and British Academy funded research project exploring the US military’s use of wargames and simulations. Alice König, Senior Lecturer and co-lead of the ‘Visualising War’-project, University of St AndrewsDr Alice König’s research is centred on intertextuality and socio-literary interactions, attitudes to and the transmission of expertise, science, and war. Currently, her focus is on the Visualising War Project, exploring how war narratives interact and form throughout history. Find Alice @KonigAliceAristidis A. Foley, PhD Candidate, School of International Relations, University of St AndrewsAris Foley’s research combines political and critical theories with dystopian literature, exploring the notion of Critical Dystopianism. He is an avid painter of wargame models, a hobby which has engaged him for 18 years. Find Aris @ares_miniaturesKatarina H.S. Birkedal, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Classics, University of St AndrewsDr Katarina Birkedal’s work focuses on the politics of storytelling. Her research centres an embrace of interdisciplinarity and multiplicity, of voices and approaches. She is currently working on bridging disciplinary silos to further our understanding of war stories and their social and cultural impact. Find Katarina @Kat_in_a_BirchAs the second in a two-part special, this episode will delve into the cultural impact of wargames in history and shed light on their contemporary influence in discourses on war and strategy. For more information check out the Visualising Strategy blog.To find out more about our research programme, please visit the University of St Andrews Visualising War project website.Co-produced by Katarina Birkedal and Sneha ReddyMusic composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin 
How do crisis simulations help us understand strategy and decision-making processes?  Crisis simulation exercises can take many forms, from complex live wargame events to on-screen and multi-week crisis scenarios. What is the role and utility of crisis simulations in the understanding, teaching, and making of strategy? Can wargames be used as a predictive tool, or should their utility be centred around training purposes? How are wargames and simulations adapting to an increasingly online workspace? James Fielder, Founder, Liminal Operations and Adjunct Professor, Colorado State UniversityDr James "Pigeon" Fielder teaches political science at Colorado State University, where he researches emergent political processes through tabletop, live-action, and digital gaming. He founded the corporate wargame consultancy Liminal Operations and writes for Evil Beagle Games. Find Pigeon at @j_d_fielderPaul Vebber, Assistant Director, Wargaming and Future Warfare Research, US NavyPaul Vebber is a lifelong hobby wargamer and co-founder of Matrix Games. He currently works for the US Navy as a civilian focused on wargaming in support of technology development and associated employment concepts.Yuna Huh Wong, Defense Analyst, Institute for Defense AnalysesDr Yuna Huh Wong is a defense analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and adjunct professor at Georgetown University. At IDA she is currently involved in cyber wargames; as well as tabletop exercises and studies to support the Joint Staff. Find Yuna @YunaHuhWongFelipe Cruvinel, PhD Candidate, School of International Relations, University of St AndrewsFelipe Cruvinel is a PhD candidate at St Andrews, currently writing a thesis on applying data analysis to counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. He designs and produces wargames and simulations for the school and undertakes tabletop design and hobby gaming in his own time. Find Felipe @FCruvi As the first in a two-part special, this episode will provide a peek into the contemporary world of crisis simulations and wargames and the intriguing processes, inspiration, and decisions that underlie their creation and production. For more information check out the Visualising Strategy blog.To find out more about our research programme, please visit the University of St Andrews Visualising War website. Co-produced by Katarina Birkedal and Sneha ReddyMusic composed by Jonathan YoungSound mixing by Zofia Guertin
In this week's episode, Alice and Nicolas interview librettist Susan Werbe and composer Kirsten Volness about musical representations of war. In particular, Susan and Kirsten discuss the opera they created with colleague Kate Holland, Letters That You Will Not Get: Women's Voices from the Great War. As Susan explains, most representations of WW1 have been white, male and Eurocentric - but this was a global conflict which impacted many different people in many different ways. Letters uses the words of real women to create archetypes that represent women’s war experiences from countries on both sides of the conflict, diverse ethnicities and social classes, and quite different views on the war. It features mothers, daughters, wives, lovers, friends and sisters; women full of pride and hope, and women full of anger and fear; nurses and munitions workers; women who could do nothing but bear witness to the war; and women who fought other battles along the way, against the racists policies and ongoing discrimination faced by Black Americans. In the podcast, Susan discusses traditional habits of visualising the First World War and how recent research and commemorations have contributed new angles and stories. Kirsten explains some of the musical influences behind the songs she wrote and we talk about the power of music to add layers of meaning and emotional impact, deepening our understanding of individual and collective experiences of conflict. We listen to some extracts from the opera, and Susan and Kirsten explain how the different songs come together to ask big questions about war, its causes and consequences. The First World War is a story many of us are familiar with, but Letters That You Will Not Get invites us to look at it with new eyes, from a range of viewpoints, and in the process it prompts us to consider how we look at, imagine and narrate other wars. We hope you enjoy the episode! For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. You can read more about Letters That You Will Not Get in a blog by Susan Werbe on our project website and you can listen to other extracts from the opera here. For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website. Music composed by Jonathan Young   Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin
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