CfP: Knowing Your Enemy, Reporting on Conflicts. War, Intelligence and Information from Antiquity to the Present Day

Call for papers, deadline 15 November 2021

[For French, see here: and PDF attachment]

Third International Student Colloquium in Military History

Call for Papers

Knowing Your Enemy, Reporting on Conflicts: War, Intelligence and Information from Antiquity to the Present Day

Montreal, October 24-25, 2022


The advent of digital technology has dramatically changed the way in which information is collected, distributed, and received in times of war. Indeed, while satellites and intelligence drones have become essential tools for any military operation, continuous news channels and social networks are transforming the narrative of conflicts with ever- greater immediacy. Information technologies and the various media continue to gain importance in the unfolding, narration, and perception of armed conflicts. If the issue of information - or misinformation - is essential for contemporary wars, it was also a central component of ancient warfare. Indeed, every era has its own specific problems linked to the informational dimensions of war. This student colloquium on the history of the war offers a long-term perspective and an interdisciplinary approach to the link between war and information. It centres on the following three themes:

  • Warfare and intelligence;
  • Rumours, media, and the public sphere in times of war;
  • Narratives and firsthand accounts of war.

The first theme concerns the gathering of data and transmission of military intelligence. Indeed, the military authorities must collect information in the field in order to maximize their chances of success as part of reconnaissance or espionage operations. The proposed papers will focus on the actors and sources of this information gathering. How are reconnaissance units and intelligence networks organized and structured? What information is sought after, and how reliable is it? How does this intelligence circulate and what is it used for? Similarly, the authorities, military and civilian alike, accumulate and use data before and after conflicts in order to optimize the functioning of the military in the event of war. We can thus wonder how military personnel are counted, question the way in which military logistics are developed, or even focus on the issue of the experience- based feedback, and in particular the the training of officers in practices of military intelligence.

The second theme focuses on media coverage of war and its influence on the construction of the public sphere. A conflict can constitute a rupture in the life of a society, and its development is publicized by various actors (individuals, institutions, private networks). It is possible to study who these actors are, and by what means do they participate in the insertion of war into the public sphere. Likewise, wars with little media coverage, and their prolongation, are at the heart of this investigation questioning, highlighting choices as to what information is distributed, or not. In this way, we seek to shed light on the complex process of the construction of wartime events, and their instrumentalization. On the other hand, we can also try to understand how the context of war reshapes the public sphere. War affects media circuits and structures and polarizes public opinion. How do political authorities regulate speech and media channels in wartime? How does the media adapt to war, whether by changing their strategies or their tools of communication? How do individuals access this information and how do they understand and interpret it?

Finally, the third theme concerns the experience of war and its retelling. The question of firsthand accounts of war, their transmission, and their instrumentalization are at the heart of this theme. This overlaps with the narrative and circulation of these accounts during conflict, both in graphic and visual media. What are the media coverage and transmission strategies for witnesses to war? How are their accounts spread? What are the public dimensions of wartime experience and how do they contribute to the media coverage of conflicts during and after the conflict? This theme also engages with the way in which the information contained in these testimonies contributes to the development of individual and collective memory. What selection of information is made in order to construct or transform collective memory?

The symposium, organised by the Research Group on the history of war (GRHG) is interdisciplinary and open to all graduate students (master's and doctoral levels) and emerging scholars. The organizing committee will accept proposals examining the interrelationships between war and information from the Antiquity to the present day.


Proposals for papers can be sent in English or French to the following address:

before November 15, 2021.

Proposals should include the main research question and the methodological framework (a maximum of 2500 characters, including spaces) and a short bibliography (max. 10 titles). They should also include a brief author bio--including full name and institutional affiliation, level of study and research interests--and indicate the estimated cost of travel to Montreal, as well any possible financial support already available for travel and accommodation.

On travel costs: The organizers will do their best to cover the costs of travel and accommodation expenses for conference participants. However, those who can potentially provide their own funding through the support of their university or research affiliations should inform us when they send in their proposal. The possibility of external funding (even if not guaranteed) will be an important prerequisite for the grant application that will be submitted for the organization of the colloquium.

Papers may be either presented in English or in French. However, an active understanding of the French language is a requirement for participants in order to be able to fully understand the questions following the presentations, as well as for the publication of the conference proceedings.

Advisory Committee

  • Agnès Bérenger (Université Montpellier 3),
  • Jonas Campion (UQTR),
  • Émilie Dosquet (CY Cergy Paris Université),
  • Patrick Dramé (Université de Sherbrooke),
  • Mathieu Engerbeaud (Université d’Aix Marseille),
  • David Grondin (UdeM),
  • Pauline Lafille (Université de Limoges),
  • Benoît Léthenet (Université de Strasbourg),
  • Johanne Villeneuve (UQAM) 
  • Laurent Vissière (Université d’Angers).

Organizing Committee

  • Valentin Grandclaude (UQÀM-Université Rennes 2),
  • Nicolas Handfield (UQÀM-Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne),
  • Aurore Kamichetty (UdeM),
  • Daniel Lemire (UQÀM),
  • Jérémie Lévesque-St-Louis (UQÀM),
  • Chloé Poitras-Raymond (UdeM),
  • Philipp Portelance (UQÀM-Université de Heidelberg),
  • Thomas Vennes (Université de Sherbrooke).


  • The Black Watch Officers' Mess - 2067 rue de Bleury
    Montreal, Canada (H3A 2K2)