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This web site and blog is intended to act as a hub for the global community of scholars working on military occupation as a form of alien rule and as a dynamic power relationship between occupiers and occupied.
Military Occupations have been a persistent feature of international politics for at least the past two hundred years since the French Revolution. Many territories are still subject to various forms of military occupation and rule today. Yet although specific cases have been studied in great detail, this research is highly fragmented. Scholars from different disciplines, studying different territories or time periods, rarely talk to each other. The Occupation Studies Research Network promotes the exchange of ideas, the sharing of information, and aims to encourage a more systematic, comprehensive and interdisciplinary conceptual understanding of the phenomenon of military occupation.
David Edelstein, Georgetown University, USA.
There are good reasons to expect that any prospective Russian occupation of Ukraine will be unsuccessful from the point of view of the occupier. The next important question to ask is how a Russian occupation of Ukraine is likely to progress from the moment at which Moscow recognizes that its occupation has stalled or is unlikely to achieve any transformative goals in Ukraine. Based on how other occupying powers have reacted after failing to achieve their initial aims, there are four possible strategies that Russia seems most likely to pursue.
Sophie De Schaepdrijver, Pennsylvania State University, USA
As invasions pushed frontlines deep inside enemy territory, large patches of Europe found themselves occupied by enemy armies. Occupation formed a ‘third space’ that was intricately bound up with the high-intensity, military fronts where there were millions of casualties, and with the mobilization of the home front by the belligerent governments.
Christopher Knowles, King’s College London, UK
In this Network seminar, held on 24 March 2022, five distinguished scholars with expertise in different fields reflected on possible scenarios for a Russian occupation of Ukraine.
Benedikt Neuwöhner, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany
The presence of Allied armies in the Rhineland after the First World War is often understood merely as a prelude to Hitler and the Second World War, and thus a minor episode in European history. However, there are still many neglected research perspectives, which may provide a more nuanced view on the Rhineland occupation. In particular, British and American policy towards Germany differed considerably from the French approach, which is often mistakenly seen as representative of broader occupation dynamics at the time.
Brian Drohan, U.S. Military Academy – West Point, USA
There is an undeniable instrumentalism to the study of history within military institutions. The temptation to draw broad lessons from the past – universally applicable, but often simplistically derived – is alive and well in armed forces around the world. To avoid treating military history as a library of reductive “lessons learned,” as an amplifier for uncritical thinking about the role of military leaders, or as a means of perpetuating popular historical myths, future military officers need to study more than just military institutions, commanders, and soldiers.
The Lived Experience: Personal Memories of Occupation in the British Zone of Germany after the Second World War
Bettina Blum, Paderborn University, Germany
Military occupation can be considered as a distinctive system of rule, shaped by dynamic power relations between occupiers and occupied that operated on different levels: political, economic, cultural and social. In the case of the British occupation of Germany 1945-55, these power dynamics can be observed in daily interactions in the streets, the neighbourhoods or at the workplace, as well as in encounters at political and administrative levels.
Jeremy Taylor, University of Nottingham, UK
Since the US occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, various changes – both in the wider world and within the academy – have taken scholarly debates about occupation in new directions. There is now more willingness on the part of many scholars to question the distinction between occupation and other forms of external control, such as most noticeably colonialism. As such, the increasing tendency to move beyond the definition of ‘occupation’ as set out in international law reflects wider concerns about the structural legacies of colonialism.
Rebecca Zahn, University of Strathclyde, UK
Similar to conditions pertaining in a state of emergency, the occupation both suspended normal rules of engagement and created a (temporary) change in the power dynamics between government, workers and employers. This enabled the reorganisation of internal company structures despite the opposition and, indeed, without consultation of the owners of the companies affected; something that would not have been possible in a different political context.
Adam Seipp, Texas A&M University, USA
Campo Pond, a former US army training area near Frankfurt, is a perfect spot to consider the long and complicated story of the American military presence in Germany. By studying the ways that German communities have used, or tried to use, the facilities left by the Americans, we can see the durable legacies of the Cold War and the multiple transformations of German society over the past few decades.
Peter Stirk, Durham University, UK
Military occupation typically entails some measure of military government. Yet this military government has not been subject to systematic comparative study and has been largely ignored by the literature of political science. This is unfortunate for it is also a fascinating form of government precisely because of its peculiarities and paradoxes.
Interested in joining?
The Occupation Studies Research Network is intended to support scholars in any discipline, who are actively researching or who have recently completed work on some aspect of the subject of Military Occupation. Membership is free, and the network is not limited to any particular time period or national cases of occupation. Find out about how to apply for membership by clicking on the button below.