This research group explored historical concepts and global dynamics of “civilisation” and “militarisation” in relation to democratic governance. Conventional understandings of these terms by both scholars and policy makers/practitioners have long imagined and naturalised a neat divide between the spheres of “the civil” and “the military”, often marking the former as the “rule of law” and the latter as the “fog of war”. However, considering these concepts historically, ethnographically and philosphically, it is notable that conflations and recombinations of civil and military forms of order and security have been a continual social fact across time and space. This has been the case since security forces began to be organised, especially in the West and Western-influenced regions that were often, though not necessarily, colonised. Whether contemplating classical Greek and Roman texts, Renaissance philosophies of state authority, colonial military “reformist” writings, the history and sociology of “virtue” and “manners”, or Foucault's inversion of the famed Clausewitzian axiom to say “politics is the continuation of war by other means”, one notes a continual tug of war between the foregrounding of either civil or military forms of order and authority, which belies a clear and incontrovertible distinction between these forms.

Proceeding on the assumption that the line between civilised and militarised spheres is not merely murky, but also manipulable, this group aims to address broad questions spanning the humanities and social sciences, such as: What does it mean to define a particular form of sociality as “civil” or “military”? Who decides on such categories, by what means and toward what ends? How are such definitions and decisions co-configured with changing concepts of law and war, security and order, and democracy itself?


MIchaelmas Term 2011: The imagined distinction  between civil and military spheres.
Lent Term 2012: Humanitarian Interventions in Conflict and War



Dr Beatrice Jauregui (Dept of Social Anthropology/Centre of South Asian Studies) 


Dr Lori Allen  (Department of Middle Eastern Studies)
Dr Devon Curtis (Department of Politics and International Studies-POLIS)
Dr Iginio Gagliardone (Media and Communication Studies, Centre of Governance and Human Rights)
Dr Adam Higazi (Centre of African Studies)
Dr Emma Hunter (Faculty of History)
Dr Humeira Iqtidar (Department of Political Economy, King's College London)
Dr Jean Khalfa (Department of French)
Dr Isaac Nakhimovsky (Faculty of History)
Dr Dacia Viejo Rose (Cultural Heritage and the Reconstruction of Identities After Conflict project, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research)
Dr Lee Wilson (Department of Social Anthropology)

Past events

Between Civilisation and Militarisation
Special Event: State Control over Private Military and Security Companies in Armed Conflict
12 Oct 2011 1:00pm - 2:00pm, Senior Common Room, 17 Mill Lane, 1st Floor

Dr Hannah Tonkin. Inaugural Collaborative Seminar . *NB: Different time (1-2pm) and venue

The Imagined Distinction Between Civil and Military Spheres
12 Oct 2011 5:00pm - 7:00pm, CRASSH

Reading group discussion and special presentation (Brig. Andrew Sharpe) *NB the readings for this session will be pre-circulated, and made available via CRASSH website for downloadable/printable readings

Democratic Rep of the Congo the African Metastases of Post-Colonial Cancer:Rethinking the African State (re-)formation from a war-torn Perspective
24 Oct 2011 5:00pm - 7:00pm, Centre of African Studies, Free School Lane, Seminar room

Patience Kabamba (The Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame) NB: Venue African Studies 5.00pm

Changed to 12 October 2011
26 Oct 2011 All day,

Changed to 12 Oct 2011. Brig Andrew Sharpe

26 Oct 2011 5:00pm - 7:00pm, CRASSH

Brig Andrew Sharpe (Head of Land Research, Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, Ministry of Defence)

The Libya War
9 Nov 2011 5:00pm - 7:00pm, CRASSH

Dr Tarak Barkawi (POLIS), Gp Cpt Mike Hart (Director of Defence Studies -RAF-, Joint Services Command)

Topographies and Legalities of Militarised Security*
23 Nov 2011 5:00pm - 7:00pm, CRASSH

Dr Lori Allen (Contemporary Middle Eastern Politics & Society) and Dr Julia Hornberger (Dept of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich). See page event for papers.

Topic: Intervening in Conflict in the Name of Peace and Protection
25 Jan 2012 5:00pm - 7:00pm, CRASSH

Reading group discussion.

Topic: Responsibility to Protect and Regimes of Accountability
8 Feb 2012 5:00pm - 7:00pm, CRASSH

Dr Sharath Srinivasan (Director, Center of Governance and Human Rights, Cambridge) and Dr Alan Keenan (Sri Lanka Project Director and Senior Analyst, International Crisis Group)

Topic: Community Security and Conflict Resolution from Below
22 Feb 2012 5:00pm - 7:00pm, CRASSH

Dr Kate Meagher (Dept of International Development, LSE)

Witnessing War: Culture and Conflict in the 20th Century and Beyond
8 Mar 2012 1:15pm - 6:00pm, CRASSH, Seminar room SG1

Special Workshop with Jay Winter, CRASSH Humanitas Visiting Professorship

Bunkers and Other Risk Assessments: (Im-)Material Calculations of Military and Natural Disasters
8 May 2012 5:00pm - 7:00pm, CRASSH, Seminar room SG2, Ground floor

Dr Michael Guggenheim (Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process, Goldsmiths University of London). In conjunction with the Twentieth Century Think Tank group (HPS).

Bargaining with militarisation: an ethnography of women married to servicemen living overseas
13 Jun 2012 5:00pm - 7:00pm, CRASSH, Seminar room SG2, Ground floor

Alexandra Hyde (Gender Institute, LSE)


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk