Occupation Studies

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Maastricht University

Occupation Studies Research Network

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.

The focus of the network is on interactions between occupiers and occupied across different cases of occupation, including the ‘benevolent’ Allied post-war occupations of Germany, Austria, Italy and Japan; the ‘oppressive’ and in many cases violent occupations in Western and Eastern Europe by Germany during the war; and other, more or less benevolent or oppressive cases of military occupation and rule of territory acquired as a result of war, from the French Revolution to the present day.

Five themes

Contributions are invited from scholars who are exploring one or more of the following five themes:

i) Government: the ruling techniques of the occupiers and the varied responses of the occupied.
ii) Rules: how the experience of occupation has affected international and national legal systems (and less formal rules and behavioural norms).
iii) Social interactions: between occupiers and occupied, including questions of race, gender and national (and other) identities.
iv) Legacies: the social, political, cultural and economic legacies of occupation.
v) Memories: the diverse memories of occupation.

Posts on the blog will examine these five themes with a particular focus on the lived experience of occupation. As the historian Lutz Niethammer wrote: personal interactions are a crucial component in any attempt to understand how occupation affected life among both occupiers and occupied, allowing us to ‘grasp the multiplicity of experience and individuals’ attempts to order and make sense of their everyday lives’.

The web site seeks to stimulate different forms of intellectual exchange and cooperation amongst experts working on very different aspects and cases of occupation.

Blog posts will not be peer reviewed and should focus on discussing the significance of a particular aspect of the subject. In addition, posts may contain examples drawn from a specific case study that are then used to illustrate a larger point about occupation, or more generally, provide conceptual and theoretical reflection on how to study the phenomenon of occupation historically, discuss the value of comparisons between different cases of occupation, or provide a contribution to particular historiographical debates. Blog posts should not be written primarily to present the results of an individual’s detailed empirical research, which can be done through other means.

Network members with relevant expertise are invited to comment on the posts (as can anyone else reading the blog, if they wish), so that the cumulative outcome over time of the work of the network will be to contribute to building a collective research agenda.

An expanding network

The network is not limited to any particular national cases of occupation. The initial focus will be on military occupations after the Second World War, including post-war Germany, Austria and Japan, but the network will be open to scholars researching both earlier (e.g. German occupations of France, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands) and more recent cases of occupation (e.g. in Europe and the Middle East), within the overall time period of the French Revolution to the present day. Scholars working on military occupation in any part of the world are welcome to join the network and contribute to the blog.

The convenors of the network are Dr Camilo Erlichman, Assistant Professor at Maastricht University and Dr Christopher Knowles, Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London, who is acting as the principal editor of the blog, which is hosted at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

If you would like to join the network and/or write a contribution for the blog, please click on the button below for more details.

Fast facts

  • Interdisciplinary network
  • Free membership
  • Five research themes
  • Blog, seminars, and news