Learning the lessons of the horrors of confinement

If there is anything that can be learned from the past year it’s that confinement is definitely a hindrance to freedom, writes Amanda Kamuene.

But what happens when your confinement is not a result of a pandemic but of war and persecution?

When looking at events of the past, it should be noted that confinement isn’t something that is new to society, particularly, in terms of war.

Examples date as far back as the Boer War in South Africa from 1900 to 1902 to the German concentration camps before and during the Second World War. Now historians are set to discuss the horrors of confinement in the First and Second World Wars and the Yugoslav conflict of the 1990s in a live webinar hosted by De Montfort University, Leicester to mark Armistice Day.

Panikos Panayi, Professor of European History at DMU, will look at the internment camp in Knockaloe on the Isle of Man during the First World War and how it led to the development of the ‘barbed-wire disease’, a psychiatric syndrome amongst male prisoners of war incarcerated for a long period of time. He will also discuss how this wasn’t the case for all prisoners as some prisoners tried to deal with their situation by developing cultural activities, creating a sort of ‘counter-culture’ within the internment camps.

DMU PhD student Jessica Cretney will draw on her own doctoral research to spotlight the factors that shaped the chilling designs of the Nazi concentration camps. Kenneth Morrison, Professor of Modern Southeast European History at DMU, will focus on war-torn Sarajevo, exploring how citizens adapted to life in the besieged city – without basic necessities such as electricity, gas and domestic water supply. He will look at the lessons that can be drawn from the case of Sarajevo and will be joined by curator at the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Elma Hodžić through a video link, who will discuss how citizens used their creativity to function during the siege.

War Crisis and Confinement: Lessons from the Twentieth Century takes place tomorrow (WED,NOV11) from 12.30pm to 2pm. For further information, contact the DMU events office at eventsoffice@dmu.ac.uk. To register for the webinar, click here.

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