War and Resistance

The overarching theme of the War and Resistance strand is ‘telling different war stories’ and the primary interest is in uncovering and presenting the stories of those who resisted the war in various ways. This extends beyond explorations of pacifism and conscientious objectors, to those who resisted the war for political reasons, for example. War and Resistance will link with the areas of War and Medicine, through non-combatant personnel in the war, and to Culture and the Arts, through exploring war resistance in art.

Dr Ingrid Sharp spoke on this subject at a number of conferences through 2014, including:

26th-28th November, Venice

Living war. Thinking peace (1914-1921).  Women’s experiences, feminist thought and international relations

Letting Our Hearts Speak: Love as Moral Imperative and Anti-war Strategy in the International Women’s Movement 1914-1919.

The association of war with manly strength and rationality and pacifism with womanly weakness and emotionality led to women’s organized resistance to the First World War being dismissed by many as sentimental and unrealistic.  Before her death in June 1914, peace campaigner Bertha von Suttner claimed ‘we women have the right to show our feelings’ (von Suttner 1914, 53).

Within the international women’s organization for peace, a rhetoric of love reaching across national boundaries was set against the messages of hatred and enmity that dominated international exchanges and the national press during and in the aftermath of the war. For peace activists Jane Addams (US) and Helene Stöcker (Germany), the atavistic urge towards aggression unleashed by the war was outweighed by an even more deeply-rooted human instinct: ‘to foster life and protect the helpless’ (Addams, Balch and Hamilton, 61).

This paper will examine the writings of key peace activists during the First World War as well as the accounts and resolutions of the International Women’s Congresses held at the Hague in 1915 and Zurich 1919 to reveal how women activists used articulations of love as both a moral imperative and a powerful strategy of resistance to war.

Works cited:

Addams, Jane, Balch, Emily Greene, Hamilton Alice (2003) [1915] Women at the Hague.

This strand is led by Ingrid Sharp.