The study of domestic and international conflict dominates the humanities and social sciences. Wars are recorded, analysed, and contested through art, literature, history, and beyond. It is only when we consider 'violence' as a separate phenomenon to 'war', 'terrorism' or 'genocide', however, that we are truly able to ascertain how and why it occurs, the elements which contain or constrain it, and factors which determine its nature and intensity.
The external factors and personal idiosyncrasies which drive an individual to commit violence can become lost in the greater narrative of a war or conflict. And the dynamics which shape the nature of any violent attack can only be surmised when we understand violence at a local or individual level. Why, for instance, are some attacks especially brutal, exceed what would be clinically required to take the life of an individual, or venture into what can only be perceived as cruelty? And why are some warring organisations considered barbaric, illogical, or callous whilst others are considered capable of exhibiting the principles of Jus ad Bellum or Jus in Bello?
Violence Studies Oxford is a research network which seeks to further our understanding of the phenomenon of violence, challenge assumptions and preconceptions of war, and encourage a collaborative effort to rethink the way in which we discuss conflict. Comparing conflict, on the micro and macro scale, across different periods of time, in various parts of the globe, and through different genres of human record, allows greater scrutiny and understanding of the relationship between the human condition, the environment, and the notion that the individual can in any way be predisposed to violence.
This year, the network will focus on bearing fruits from inter-disciplinary research by having a bias towards the hosting of panel events, over single-speaker seminars, to physically bring together scholars to discuss thematic topics across the disciplines, using global, contemporary and historical examples.