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Great War: Unknown War

Conference information

These Great War conferences are designed to publicize the latest historical research. They are also open to the general public: follow links for more information/registration.

Sarajevo 1914: Spark and Impact

An International Conference about the South Slav Question
26-28 June 2014

Location: Nuffield Lecture Theatre A, Highfield Campus

The murders in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were notoriously the ‘spark' that lit up the Great War of 1914-1918. They were evidence of an unresolved ‘South Slav problem' in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose imperial mission was at odds with popular aspirations in the Balkans. The regional context in which the murders occurred remains controversial. Some aspects have been well considered by historians over the past century but many are completely under-researched. Above all, there have been few attempts to think about the causes and repercussions of the South Slav problem in the interaction of its local, regional and international dimensions. In 1918, as Austria-Hungary collapsed the new state of Yugoslavia would be created on its ruins.

Aims and Organization

This major two-day international conference at the University of Southampton aims, in contrast to most other British events about the 1914 anniversary, to tackle this important theme. It brings together 23 historians from across Europe, including experts from Croatia, Serbia and Austria, to debate the subject from different angles. The conference also uses the Sarajevo murders as a focal point from which to branch out and consider the destabilizing impact on the Habsburg Empire and on Europe as a whole.

On the one hand, we will be analysing the long and short-term sources of unrest which led to the murders in Bosnia-Herzegovina: for example, Habsburg ‘colonial' behaviour in the Balkans; the context of South Slav unrest (its Serb, Croat and Slovene ‘solutions'); social tensions in Bosnia; terrorist acts against Habsburg officials; the public reputation of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; and Serbia's role in the murders. On the other hand, we will consider the short and long-term impact of ‘Sarajevo' with a focus on its regional context but including wider echoes: the reaction to the Sarajevo murders among the Habsburg elite, in the provinces of Austria-Hungary, and among the other Great Powers of Europe; the emergency measures in Bosnia, including trials and executions, in the context of ‘total war'; and the commemoration and memory of Sarajevo in later decades.

This is therefore a unique opportunity to hear historians discussing a subject which is crucial to understanding why the First World War took place and why the Habsburg Empire collapsed in 1918, transforming south-eastern Europe for the twentieth century. 


Keynote speakers are:Christopher Clark (Cambridge), Lothar Höbelt (Vienna).
Other speakers include: Stejpan Matković, Iskra Iveljić, Mile Bjelajac, Roy Bridge, Thomas Otte, Robin Okey, Tamara Scheer, Günther Kronenbitter, Dominic Lieven, Mark Cornwall, Danilo Šarenac, Jonathan Gumz.


The Great War and the Moving Image

An international conference organised by the University of Kent in conjunction with the University of Southampton and in association with the Imperial War Museum will take place at the University of Kent, Canterbury on 15-16 April 2014.

The aim of the conference is to explore the Great War through all forms of moving images including cinema, television and computer games. We are particularly interested in the way genres have translated across media and how images were received creating popular understandings of the war and feeding into wider commemorative processes. The conference is particularly interested to explore the moving image in terms of circulation, distribution and representation.

While the conference is mainly historical in focus, we would like to encourage interdisciplinarity, especially the cross-fertilization of history with the wider military and media communities. This will be the first major international conference of its kind to explore these issues and will, we hope, identify further research synergies forming the basis for future collaboration.

For further information contact Professor Adrian Smith or Dr Mike Hammond.


Adrian Smith teaches modern British history at the University of Southampton.  His book on the early New Statesman examined party politics in Britain during the First World War, with particular reference to the Labour movement.  A biography of the socialist fighter pilot ‘Mick' Mannock focused upon the air war above the trenches of the Western Front, forming the basis for BBC2's Timewatch documentary ‘Fallen Aces'.  More recently, his life of Lord Mountbatten embraced the war at sea.   Professor Smith's present research on the rapid expansion of Britain's aircraft industry after 1914 is complemented by an interest in the war beyond Europe; not least the Dardanelles campaign, in which the Hampshire Regiment featured prominently.

Minorites and the First World War

A conference organised by the University of Chester on 14-15 April 2014.  This includes a keynote lecture by Professor Tony Kushner.

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