The Blockade in the Era of the Two World Wars, 1914-1945

Jonas Scherner's picture
Call for Papers
June 19, 2020 to June 20, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Diplomacy and International Relations, Economic History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, World History / Studies, Military History

The Blockade in the Era of the Two World Wars, 1914-1945

Trondheim, Norway, 19-20 June 2020, Organizers: Jonas Scherner (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and Alan Kramer (Trinity College Dublin)

Surprisingly little is still known about the planning, implementation and especially the short- and long-term effects of blockade in the first half of the 20th-century. In both world wars, blockades constituted a key means of warfare, which impacted profoundly on the living conditions of European and non-European populations, on world trade, on major strategic decisions (like unrestricted submarine warfare), on neutrality, on technology and science, on war economies and resource management, and on overall policy decisions (like the German decision to pursue autarky during the 1930s). The experience of blockade in the First World War in particular informed trade and economic policies, military preparations, diplomatic negotiations, international law, and mentalities for the next three decades. Blockade became a defining feature of modern warfare itself.


This 2-day conference will provide an opportunity to debate the developments, effects and legacies of blockade in 20th-century warfare, principally the two world wars. The conference aims to bring together scholars working on a wide variety of topics and employing different methodological approaches to showcase and debate current research trends. It will focus not only on questions of economic, diplomatic, legal, and military history, but also on social and cultural history, including 'learning processes', civilian experience and memory. The intention of this conference is to review the current state of scholarship and stake out the ground for new research. In all, the conference hopes to interrogate the significance of the blockades for the era of the two world wars, paying special attention to how the ‘first blockade’ affected and shaped the ‘second blockade’. It is envisaged that a selection of conference papers will be published in an edited volume.

Topics for presentations might include but are not limited to:

  • Military aspects of wartime blockades, ranging from grand strategy to implementation.
  • Short- and long-term economic effects, on countries as well as companies, such as the transformation of war economies or the rationing and substitution of raw materials.
  • Diplomatic negotiations and legal frameworks, including the role of the neutral countries.
  • Social and cultural histories of blockade, including the experience of affected populations and propaganda.
  • The legacy of blockade (legal, military, social, diplomatic, economic, technological, cultural, etc.).

Scholars interested in presenting a paper at the conference are invited to send a brief abstract of 300 words and a one-page CV by 10 January 2020 to

The conference will be able to provide 3-nights hotel accommodation and cover travel costs (up to 350 € within Europe; 650 € outside of Europe) for all presenters.