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Warfare and Society


A Conference Sponsored by the University of Tenessee’s Center for the Study of War and Society and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.


Warfare once occupied a much more prominent place in the histories of colonial North America. Indian raids, imperial wars, and backcountry rebellions structured a narrative that culminated in grand imperial victories and the formation of new nation states. Over time, social and cultural historians moved these events to the background, replacing tales of crucial battles and heroic generals with the rich texture of colonial life, including the dynamics of class, race, and gender. While illuminating once obscure aspects of the colonial experience, these new approaches have, on occasion, overshadowed important historical phenomena. This conference seeks to join the insights of cultural and social history with the study of warfare, looking beyond individual wars to the more pervasive realities of organized violence in early American life. Conference participants will collectively evaluate the importance of warfare in shaping the colonial world, including the extent to which violent conflict can serve as an organizing principle for early American history.

Paul W. Mapp (College of William and Mary) and Brett Rushforth (Brigham Young University) organized the program for this conference, which is jointly sponsored by the Center for the Study of War and Society and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Founded in 1984 by the late Dr. Charles W. Johnson, the Center maintains an ongoing oral history program focusing on American veterans and an extensive World War II archival research collection, administers graduate fellowships and undergraduate internships, sponsors lectures, organizes conferences, and serves as a resource for military history and national security policy. The Institute, created by the College of William and Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 1943, advances the study of the history and cultures of North America from circa 1450 to 1820, including related developments in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Africa. It publishes the William and Mary Quarterly and books in its field of interest, organizes and supports a variety of conferences, seminars, and colloquia, and annually offers a two-year NEH postdoctoral fellowship and a one-year Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral research fellowship.