Launched in February 2019, the Military Welfare History Network (MWHN) brings together historians and social scientists who research welfare, care and medical provisions relating to armed forces personnel and their families in and across all geographical and cultural spaces, chronologies and thematic areas, with a view to promoting their research, expanding their networks and developing new and exciting collaborations.
MWHN comprises over 135 researchers active in the broad and diverse area of MWH, who are based at or affiliated with nearly 100 higher education institutions and other organisations in a score of countries across the globe. To these are added nearly a dozen affiliated projects, centres and organisations. Together they are sharing their immense expertise; developing research consortia, publications and projects; and endeavouring to develop this immensely diverse and important interdisciplinary field of research, education and public policy.
Although history is at the heart of the network and membership largely comprises researchers in History departments, this is not just a venture for historians. MWHN membership is also drawn from French, Modern Languages and European Studies, Photography and Political Science departments and backgrounds, and from Museums and Archives, and independent scholars.
This network provides a networking and dissemination platform for scholars who are research active in military welfare history. Something that has heretofore been lacking, despite the existence of several societies and network that focus on the research of war or more specifically veterans and their families.
Research can relate to any chronological period, ranging from antiquity to the contemporary, and can be conducted by scholars from the arts, humanities and social science research, globally. This comprises work on state and non-state welfare provisions, perceptions, organisations and policies relating to service personnel, both serving and discharged, and their families and other dependants, and even representations of military welfare. This network seeks to bring together scholars in this unique yet diverse area of research, which spans the:
- social history of the military
- military history
- critical military studies
- military sociology
- welfare history
- gender history
- arts and cultures studies
- the study of civil-military relations
and beyond, to promote their research, to expand their networks and to develop new and exciting collaborations.
The focus of the network will be all armed forces, both regular and irregular, including armies, navies, air forces, militias and paramilitary formations.
For the purposes of this network ‘welfare’ is defined in the broadest possible sense, covering all manner of welfare, care and medical provisions afforded to service personnel, their families (partners and children) and other dependants.
This includes all relating ideologies, provision, organisations and infrastructures coming from government, charity, philanthropy and the military, and includes government allowances and pensions, regimental provisions, charitable funds, philanthropic education, employment and nursing schemes, housing schemes, and both convalescing and medical provisions.
It engages with a variety of themes, including gender (masculinity and feminism), poverty, popular culture, religion and civil-military relations, from both historical and social sciences perspectives. In doing so the network seeks to draw together historians and social scientists who work in and across all geographical and cultural spaces, chronologies and thematic areas.
The MWHN is coordinated by Dr Paul Huddie of University College Dublin and the Irish Association of Professional Historians. He is a researcher of war and society in Britain and Ireland in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and has specialised in military welfare history since completing his doctoral research on Irish society and the Crimean War in 2014. Since then he has presented a score of papers on the topic in Ireland, the UK and North America, and has published elements of the same in several articles, book chapters and blogs.