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A SYMPOSIUM ON RESISTANCE AND CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION IN WWI
October 19, 2017 - October 22, 2017
The World War’s profound effect on the United States is often overlooked. Although the United States actively took part in the conflict for only 18 months, the war effort introduced mass conscription, transformed the American economy, and mobilized popular support through war bonds, patriotic rallies, and anti-German propaganda. Nevertheless, many people desired a negotiated peace, opposed American intervention, refused to support the war effort, and/or even imagined future world orders that could eliminate war. Among them were members of the peace churches and other religious groups, women, pacifists, radicals, labor activists, and other dissenters.
Intolerance and repression often mute the voices of war critics. Almost overnight in 1917, individuals and groups who opposed the war faced constraints on their freedom to advocate, organize, and protest. The Selective Service Act of 1917 made few concessions for conscientious objectors. The Espionage Act of 1917—reinforced by the Sedition Act of 1918—prohibited many forms of speech and made it a crime to interfere with the draft. Peace advocates, antiwar activists and conscientious objectors confronted not only external hostility from the government, the press, and war supporters, but also internal disagreements over how to respond to the war and advance the cause of peace. The experience of American dissenters was not unique; their counterparts in other belligerent countries and colonial dependencies found themselves in comparable situations. Yet, those who opposed World War I helped initiate modern peace movements and left a legacy that continues to influence antiwar activism.
Earlier in the year, a call for proposals took place centering around issues of conscience, dissent, resistance, and civil liberties during World War I, in the United States and around the world. Strong conference papers may be featured in special issues of Mennonite Quarterly Review and Peace & Change.
A limited number of scholarships are available to those presenting papers at the Symposium. Scholarships are limited and, if granted, may only be a part of the sum requested. It is recommended that other funding also be actively sought. The application period is now closed. Please note that discounted student registration for the Symposium is available.