War and Peace | Twentieth-Century Responses from the Global South

torch war and peace network image

Who we are:

This is a small, cohesive, and welcoming reading group interested in foregrounding a serious and sophisticated critique of war by revisiting twentieth-century responses to the increasing civilianization of military conflict from the ‘global south’ and aimed at facilitating interdisciplinary conversations within the humanities.


What we do:

We intend to closely read a range of material — poems and pamphlets, sketches and speeches, debates and documentaries by intellectuals, artists, workers, soldiers, journalists, and activists — to animate inquiries and imaginations for thinking normatively against warfare in our times. Our aim is to be able to critically appreciate the rhetoric and the rationale, the affect and the emotion in the material that we would choose to engage with — bearing out the intertextual resonances and reflecting on our own conditions at the same time.


Why we do it:

We believe that this kind of critical interlocution with twentieth-century thinkers (and by this, we certainly do not mean figures of canonical stature alone) from the global south can empower us to discuss themes across genres but in relation to war: peacebuilding, humanitarianism, the idea of the flesh witness, the public sphere, anti-war literature to name a few of the relevant rubrics. We want to understand how and why the twentieth-century critical discourse around warfare — its dangers and futility — came to be marginalized by technocratic conversations on the legality and efficacy of warfare in the twenty-first, by paying close attention to the voices — and their cautionary warnings — from those parts of the world, which have been at the imperial receiving-ends of large-scale conflicts in modern times.


When we do it:

This reading group is open to all interested graduate students and meets on alternate weeks to collectively discuss and workshop ideas. Currently, the meetings are scheduled for the 1st, 4th, 6th, and 8th weeks of Trinity Term 2023:

First Session: 12:30 PM on Friday 28th April (Colin Matthew Room)

Second Session: 1 PM on Monday 15th May (Colin Matthew Room)

Third Session: 1 PM on Wednesday 31st May (TORCH Common Room)

Fourth Session: 1 PM on Monday 12th June (TORCH Common Room)

Ahead of each session, we circulate a set of thematically linked short readings to stimulate fruitful discussion.


To join our mailing list or other queries, please contact any of the convenors:

Suchintan Das - DPhil candidate, Faculty of History (suchintan.das@merton.ox.ac.uk)

Urvi Khaitan - DPhil candidate, Faculty of History (urvi.khaitan@history.ox.ac.uk)

Madhurima Sen - DPhil candidate, Faculty of English (madhurima.sen@hertford.ox.ac.uk)


War and Peace: Twentieth-Century Responses from the Global South Project is part of the TORCH Critical-Thinking Communities