Propaganda and Neutrality: alternative battlegrounds and active deflection
The University of Kent’s Centre for the History of War, Media and Society is organising an international conference at the Institute of Historical Research in London.THURSDAY 24 JUNE 2021
THE CLOSING DATE FOR PROPOSALS IS: 31 OCTOBER 2020
Keynote speaker: Professor Jo Fox (IHR Director)
Neutral states have played an important role in international history. Neutrality has often been a constitutional matter of principle, but for others it has been a political or military necessity. Neutrals have often acted as mediators, safe havens and buffers, or fallen victim to short-cuts in other states’ conflicts. Others have ideologically or financially supported one side in a conflict, but have taken a stance of official non-belligerence – militarily neutral, but ideologically committed.
Neutrals have also played the role of alternative battlegrounds for non-military conflicts – through means such as propaganda, rumour-spreading and espionage – either as hosts to proxy engagements between belligerent states; or through belligerent states applying pressure for neutrals to join their side in a conflict (or at least not join the other side). In the latter case belligerent states have often targeted both Governments and the wider population. However, neutral states have rarely been total bystanders in such situations. They have usually had to create policies and institutions to actively deflect pressure from those belligerent states, such as through censorship restrictions and organisations to implement those restrictions. Some have even indulged in propaganda activities of their own to make their case as to why they have remained neutral, and to counteract belligerent state propaganda.
Proposals for papers are welcome from academics and postgraduate students who are studying the role of propaganda in neutral states. Topics covered are likely to be around activities in neutral and nonbelligerent states during times of military conflict – notably the First and Second World Wars such as Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey. However, the conference encourages papers about all aspects of propaganda and neutrality from any time period, primarily from around 1750 onwards, including, but not limited to, the Cold War and policies of non-alignment. Also of interest are studies of propaganda relating to states that have had a longer-term policy of neutrality that have endured both in times of war and peace, and which the policy is core to their identity, such as that of Switzerland, the Republic of Ireland and Costa Rica. The conference aims to have a good diversity of speakers and subjects.
TOPICS MAY INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
- Relation between propaganda and neutrality- Foreign propaganda policies in neutral nations (machinery, channels, objectives, repercussions, etc.)
- Propaganda as instrument for incentive / prevention of belligerence
- Response of the neutral nations to international propaganda
- Projection and self-representation of a neutral nation
- Propaganda and the justification of neutrality
- Psychological warfare in neutral countries (black propaganda, rumours, propaganda for subversion, resistance or occupation)
- Propaganda and espionage as a weapon of war in non belligerent nations
- Channels to control neutral public opinion (radio, cinema, press, publications, rumours, etc.)·
- Cultural propaganda and neutrality
- Public diplomacy and neutrality
- National debate and foreign propaganda
- Propaganda and censorship in neutral nations