Conference: Military Welfare History Network, 2024

The theme of the third annual international conference of the Military Welfare History Network (MWHN) will be 'Economies of Military Welfare: Conversations between Past and Present'.

Call for Papers

The call for papers closed on 01 March 2024. Respondents will be informed of the committees decision and a provisional programme posted here shortly.

Click here for the call for papers text

The welfare of soldiers and their families, both provision and neglect, is a theme relevant to wars throughout history. Understanding the role of economies – financial, emotional and social – in the success or failure of past military welfare systems is crucial for identifying how societies can structure and improve these systems today.

As the levels of conflict grew in the twentieth century, the welfare of soldiers and their families became an ever-increasing priority for the state systems which fund and direct the military. However, in the context of tightening budgets, the ability of states to address this identified need often proved to be incompatible with other state priorities. Indeed, these priorities have often been determined by the post-war political context, rather than the outcome of the conflict itself. Whilst recent history points to a greater societal emphasis on welfare provision for ex-combatants, this is an area of concern that is as old as war itself, and which can be located within all combatant nations.

Where state support has been limited, it has left those in need of support without. This has often resulted in military communities, or sections of them seeking private support, to obtain the welfare that states and governments are unwilling or unable to deliver. Foremost among these alternative providers are charities and philanthropic organisations. Thus, veteran support was located and continues to be located in a ‘mixed economy of welfare, ’ where state and private welfare co-exist.

The welfare systems developed for military communities have come to embrace different aspects of support: financial, emotional and rehabilitative, and developments in this last field have often been adopted for civilian use by the state. Yet despite this relationship, civilian groups can resent what they perceive to be preferential treatment for veterans, whilst the latter group can feel let down by the levels of government provision. This in turn can cause further challenges, as the development of an alternative veteran welfare economy can elicit contradictory reactions from its clients; for some communities, it can affirm an exalted status, but for others it can engender a sense of marginalisation from the mainstream.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • state and non-state benefits and provisions
  • representations of military welfare recipients' domestic economies of military welfare
  • emotional economies of military welfare
  • mobilising and demobilising military welfare provision
  • military welfare economies in international perspective
  • race and racial ‘othering’
  • exclusions from military welfare provision.


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About the Military Welfare History Network

The MWHN provides a networking and dissemination platform for scholars who are active in military welfare history. The network seeks to bring together scholars in this unique yet diverse area of research to promote their research, expand their networks and develop collaborations. Find out more on the MWHN website.