Prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship Awarded

Dr Alexander Sedlmaier, a reader in Modern History at Bangor University has been awarded a prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship. These highly competitive fellowships are aimed at fostering interdisciplinary research, innovative academic training and international collaborations.

Dr Sedlmaier, who specialises in contemporary German, European and North American history with particular expertise in war studies, the history of protest and social movements, has taught at Bangor since 2007. This 18-month Fellowship will see him join an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Bochum, in the Ruhr area of Germany.

The political means employed by those who resort to protest during times of war is a thought-provoking and challenging topic. This project will focus on the period of the First World War to the Iraq War and make use of a range of historical approaches – including the history of protest and social movements, the history of war and of political thought – in combination with film and visual studies.

In Dr Sedlmaier’s words:

“The enduring fascination with the anti-Vietnam War movement has often served to occlude the fact that throughout the twentieth century and beyond wars generated protest action on various levels. Protest in relation to war has most commonly been considered in terms of peace movements, rather than integrated into a vision of the Europe-wide manifestations of war-time protest, the partial erosion of pacifist movements under conditions of war, and the use of state power to counter the challenge of war-time protest.

“Equally importantly, contestations of legitimacy – the essence of protest – remain an under-researched interface in societies’ experiences of, and responses to, war. No systematic attempt has been made to place war studies and protest research − both among the most vibrant fields of contemporary history – into close conversation with each other.”

By adopting a new perspective and a fresh approach, Dr Sedlmaier’s project seeks to examine the nature of protest, better understand protests of the past and contextualise this - showing that most people will speak negatively about war as an abstract phenomenon, while they do approve of certain wars in certain constellations.

As Dr Sedlmaier explains: “I am fascinated by the ways in which those who challenged a particular war embraced alternative means of political articulation due to the established channels of political decision making being controlled by the supporters of the war in question. This exciting project will allow me to develop further the debate surrounding war as a channel of cultural, social and political change.”

The Dean of Arts and Humanities, Professor Andrew Edwards commented:

‘We are delighted that Dr Sedlmaier has secured this prestigious Fellowship. This is clearly a project that will be of considerable interest to academics, politicians and the wider public and it will undoubtedly have a significant impact on contemporary debates. We are particularly proud of the fact that this is the second Marie Curie Fellowship secured by a member of staff from the Humanities over the past two years and it once again underlines the College’s capacity to produce research of internationally quality and significance.’

This Fellowship provides a fantastic opportunity for Dr Sedlmaier to work with partners at the Institute for Social Movements at Ruhr-University Bochum, North-Rhine Westphalia. The Institute is one of very few global centres wholly devoted to the interdisciplinary study of social movements in the contemporary period. Its director, Professor Stefan Berger has a global reputation as one of the leading scholars of his field. 

Publication date: 10 April 2017