Invasion Network Meeting at Lancaster, 2nd May 2016

Eleventh months on from our inaugural conference, the Invasion Network met at Lancaster University on 2nd May to discuss ongoing research and future projects. Hosted by the Head of Lancaster’s Department of History Mike Hughes, attending IN members included Ailise Bulfin, Michael Matin, Pete Mills, Tony Taylor, and Harry Wood. The primary topic of conversation was ‘Literature and Propaganda: William Le Queux, Invasion Scares and Spy Fever, 1880-1920’, a special edition of Critical Survey showcasing the research of the network and due to appear in mid-2017. This collection of essays will interrogate and interpret Le Queux’s life and legacy from a variety of scholarly angles, and the meeting offered an opportunity to ensure the contributions are developing in a coherent and interconnected way. Unifying research questions include the idea of Le Queux as a ‘populist’, the extent of his role (both quantifiable and subjective) in encouraging invasion anxieties, and the challenges of analysing a figure who left such a small archival footprint.  Having now set deadlines for drafts and established group editorial procedures, ‘Literature and Propaganda’ is moving in an exciting direction.


Invasion Network team outside Lancaster Castle. From left to right: Harry Wood, Pete Mills, Tony Taylor, Ailise Bulfin, Mike Hughes, Michael Matin


The meeting then moved on to future plans and opportunities for the Invasion Network. Firstly, it was decided that the network will aim to hold a symposium or conference every two years. We are happy to announce that the next such event will be ‘War of the Worlds: Transnational Fears of Invasion and Conflict 1870-1933’, and will be hosted at Lancaster University. This event, for which a call for papers will shortly be circulated, is designed to develop on the strengths of the IN, which currently favour British invasion anxieties of the late-Victorian and Edwardian period. We wish to expand this focus geographically and temporally, assessing the fear of invasion as a global phenomenon, and analysing how fears expressed in different nations and regions informed each other. Areas of interest include:

  • Fears of invasion in the colonial and quasi-colonial territories of the British empire – including but not limited to Ireland, India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, South East Asia and coastal China
  • European fears of invasion
  • Fears of invasion in the United States
  • Indigenous fears of Western/colonial invasion
  • Global concerns about mass migration
  • Espionage, secret societies, terrorism and anarchism
  • Sinophobia and Russophobia
  • Invasion fears in war time (such as Zeppelin scares) and in the interwar period
  • Female authors and readers, and gendered aspects of invasion fears

More details about this event will be available very soon, starting with the confirmation of a keynote speaker. The workshop will be aimed at all levels of academic scholarship, and we are especially keen to receive paper proposals from postgraduate students and early-career researchers.

We closed the meeting by thanking Mike Hughes for his hard work and hospitality in hosting the event, and expressing our excitement about the future of this young research network. We look forward to our next event in 2017 in which both the remit and the membership of the IN will be broadened.

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