18 de febrero de 2022

CfP: “Science, Technology and Close Encounters in War”

Close Encounters in War Journal – n. 5 (2022). Thematic Issue: “Science, Technology and the Close Encounters in War”

Close Encounters in War Journal (www.closeencountersinwar.org) is a peer-reviewed journal aiming to study war as a human experience through interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches. Wars are among the most ancient and deeply rooted aspects of human cultural evolution. Investigating their meaning by reflecting on how we experience them is therefore essential. Conflict is present in language, culture, instincts, passions, behavioural patterns and the human ability to represent concepts aesthetically. The “encounter” is a fundamental aspect of any experience because it implies that experiences are something that we come across or stumble into. This concept becomes particularly useful to understand how war shapes and develops our minds and affects our behaviours, habits, values, prejudices, and ideas.

The fifth issue (n. 5) of the journal will be thematic and devoted to the topic “Science, Technology and the Close Encounters in War”. We understand science as a methodological approach to the world aimed at observing and understanding it, and technology as the set of devices and tools resulting from scientific knowledge and aimed at further implementing scientific research. The interconnection among these three fields of human experience has always been strong and controversially fruitful. Furthermore, war has also been the object of methodological analysis in the treaties by Sun Tzu (5th century B.C.) and Baron Carl von Clausewitz (1832).

Since prehistoric flint-headed arrows and spears evolved from hunting tools into weapons, all the different peoples introduced technological innovations that changed the face of warfare. Hittites fought on charts; the Greek infantry consisted of heavy-armoured hoplites; the Roman legionnaires fought with the deadly iron gladius and invented innovative war-machines and techniques to besiege enemy cities and fortify their own positions; the Frank horsemen used the stirrup to ride stably on horses, thus giving birth to modern cavalry. In medieval Japan, the Samurais fought with the katana, a sword that was a masterpiece of metallurgy and craftsmanship. During the sixteenth century, firearms appeared on the European battlefields, which changed warfare forever (also inspiring Ludovico Ariosto’s contempt for such a non-heroic way of fighting). Although hand-to-hand weapons remained the first source of wounding until the early twentieth century, artillery gained an increasingly dominant role on the battlefield, especially during the Napoleonic campaigns in Europe (1803-1815) and the American Civil War (1861-1865), with significant psychological effects on the soldiers. The increase in firepower rocketed in twentieth-century wars as the millions of shells of all calibres – including gas bombs – fired on the western front between 1914 and 1918 show. During the Second World War hundreds of thousands of tons of explosives were dropped over Europe and Japan and two atom bombs destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which started the cold war and the era of the nuclear deterrent, a new form of technological and strategic warfare.

War involves science and technology not only with regard to increasing the destructivity of weapons. One may mention, for example, the effort made by a team of British scientists led by mathematician Alan Turing to crack the German coding-machine Enigma during the Second World War. New techniques in healing the wounded and sick soldiers were developed during the Crimean War (1853-1856) and since then war has represented an opportunity to experiment with new surgical treatments to cure septic affections, wounds, fractures, concussion, poisoning, mutilation, and so on, which has also given impulse to the implementation of state-of-the-art medical equipment and high-tech prosthetics. As far as industry and scientific research is undeniably involved with warfare, scientists, technicians, and technologists strive to find new ways of mitigating the negative impact of war. Chemists, physicists, engineers, medical doctors, and other scientists made enormous efforts to support the fighting troops by carrying out a parallel and often obscure battle in laboratories, offices, and factories. The intertwining of science, technology, and war is therefore a complex and fascinating aspect of the history of war that tells much about how our perception of warfare has evolved through time. 

Issue n. 5 of CEIWJ will investigate the theme of close encounters in war in connection to scientific and technological development by exploring its facets on a micro-scale, by studying individual testimonies and experiences, and from the theoretical and critical perspectives throughout history. We invite, in accordance with the scientific purpose of the journal, contributions that focus on the human dimension and perspective rather than on the broader understanding of how science, technology and war have affected each other in general. We, therefore, seek articles that analyse the close encounter in war with science and technology from the point of view of human experience, in ancient, modern and contemporary periods.

The following questions (among others) may be taken into account:


  • How has the close encounter with technological novelties in war over diverse historical periods, from ancient conflicts to cyber-war, affected witnesses and their narratives (e.g. chemical warfare; biological warfare; nuclear warfare; explosives and firearms; shell-shock; firearms vs. hand-to-hand combat weapons; etc.)?
  • How is the close encounter with science and technology in war approached in oral history and personal narratives?
  • How is the close encounter with science and technology in war approached in literature, cinema and TV, photography, and the media?
  • How does technology affect the representation of the close encounter in war, for example, through photography, digital imaging, satellites, drones, and videogames;
  • To what extent do scientists/technologists participate in war through their work and with which ethical implications (e.g. from the perspectives of physics, nuclear research, chemistry, biology, medicine, and engineering)?
  • How does the close encounter with science and technology in war affects the human response to violence?
  • What relation does connect technology, trauma, and healing (e.g. war medicine as a form of close encounter in war concerning healing techniques, history of war medicine and Medical Corps, war and prosthetics, war and mutilation, trauma, and PTSD)?
  • What are the psychological and ethical implications of encountering science and technology in war?
  • Can the close encounter with science and technology in war help understand the relationship between humans and their environment, for example, concerning the Anthropocene, the impact of technological warfare on the environment, the deployment of animals in war, and the exploitation of natural resources.

CEIWJ encourages inter/multidisciplinary approaches and dialogue among different scientific fields to promote discussion and scholarly research. The blending of the Humanities with such disciplines as Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Ethology, Medicine, Physics, and similar will be warmly welcome. Contributions from established scholars, early-career researchers, and practitioners who have dealt with the close encounter with science and technology in war in the course of their activities will be considered. Case studies may include different historical periods and geographic areas.

The editors of Close Encounters in War Journal invite the submission of abstracts of 250 words in English by 28 February 2022 to ceiwj@nutorevelli.org. The authors invited to submit their works will be required to send articles of 6000-8000 words (endnotes included, bibliographical references not included in word-count: please see submission guidelines at https://closeencountersinwar.org/instruction-for-authors-submissions/) in English by 15 June 2022 to ceiwj@nutorevelli.org. All articles will undergo a process of double-blind peer-review. We will notify the results of the peer-reviewing in September 2022. Final versions of revised articles will be submitted by November of 2022.