Held at Cardiff University, Wales, on 19-21 September 2012, this conference brought together scholars from Europe and North America to discuss political violence in interwar Europe. The conference arose from the research interests of the organisers. I am currently working on political violence in interwar France (a project funded by the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme) while Kevin Passmore has written on extreme right-wing violence in 1930s France.
The event aimed to assemble a broad field of historians in order to foster discussion of several areas: the meaning and practice of political violence, the importance of transnational exchanges and international comparison, and the methods used by historians to investigate the phenomenon.
While one cannot ignore the important case studies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, the conference included papers on violence in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, Ireland, and France.
There were thirty papers arranged across ten panels: Aftershocks of War; Violence, Race and Ethnicity; Writing Violence; Non-extremist Violence; Violence on the Right; Fascism and Anti-fascism; Violence and Democracy; Fighting for the Street; Paramilitaries; and Terrorism, Terror and the State. Professor Sven Reichardt of the Universität Konstanz presented the keynote address, titled ‘Violence and Time during the Interwar Years’.
It was particularly encouraging to note the participation of thirteen postgraduates or early career researchers.
French history was represented strongly at the conference. Eight papers took France as their case study, whether examining the practice of violence by political groups on the mainland or in the colonies, or the representation of violence in French culture.
I’d like to thank the German Historical Society, the Royal Historical Society, the Society for French Studies and the Society for the Study of French History for their generous support. The funding received allowed the organisers to reduce the cost of attending the conference, and covered the expenses incurred by the keynote speaker and the provision of refreshments. A conference dinner was held in the historic Aberdare Hall at Cardiff University.
A selection of papers presented will be published in an edited collection.