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War and Conflict in the Twentieth Century

The Research Group on War and Conflict in the Twentieth Century is co-chaired by Dr Luc-André Brunet and Professor Annika Mombauer, and encompasses the research interests of a number of members of the History Department whose work focuses on war and conflict, their causes, nature, and effects. The research group’s activities focus on the First and Second World Wars, the Cold War, and colonial violence.


Luc-André Brunet joined the OU as Lecturer in Twentieth-Century in European History in 2016. Previously, he was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute and Pinto Post-Doctoral Fellow at the London School of Economics, where he earned his PhD. His research interests are in the international history of the twentieth century. Much of his work has been on Vichy France: his first book examines the legacy of Vichy France on the early stages of European integration, while his current book project is on Vichy’s foreign policy, specifically its relations with the British Commonwealth. Luc’s other main research interest is the Cold War, particularly the period from the late-1970s to the mid-1980s known as the ‘Second Cold War’. His forthcoming book is a history of Canada’s role in the Second Cold War.

Karl Hack joined the Open University in 2006 after more than a decade at the Nanyang Technological University Singapore. He is Professor in Imperial and Asian History. His research interests include empire from below, decolonisation, insurgency, and empire port cities. Special geographical interests include Empire east of India, and Southeast Asia historical to contemporary. Special interests include decolonisation, both in itself and as an example of the continued re-articulation of the relationship between localities and globalisation.

Annika Mombauer is Professor of Modern European History in the Department. She joined the Open University in 1998. From 2006 to 2011, she was the Secretary of the German History Society. Her research interests are in nineteenth and twentieth-century international history, in particular Imperial Germany and the origins of the First World War. She has published widely on German military planning in the years before the First World War. She is currently working on a comparative history of the Battle of the Marne of 1914 to be published by Cambridge University Press. Her new book: Establishing Probabilities: The Hundred Year Debate on the Origins of the First World War will be published by Taylor & Francis.

John Slight joined the Open University as Lecturer in Modern History in 2016, where he is also the Assistant Director of the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies. He received his degrees from the University of Cambridge and was formerly a Fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge. His main research interests are the relationship between British imperialism and Islam, and Arabia and the greater Middle East during the First World War. His first book, The British Empire and the Hajj, 1865-1956 (Harvard University Press, 2015) won the triennial Trevor Reese Memorial Prize in 2017 for the most wide-ranging, innovative and scholarly book on imperial history.

Vincent Trott joined the Open University as Lecturer in History in 2017. His research interests focus on the history and memory of the First World War, and on the history of publishing and reading in the twentieth century. His first book, Publishers, Readers and the Great War, was published by Bloomsbury in 2017. He is currently researching the use of humour in the First World War, with a particular focus on British and American satirical magazines.’

Affiliated Researchers:

Geoff Andrews (Politics)

Hugh Beattie (Religious Studies)

Jovan Byford (Psychology)

Sara Haslam (English and Creative Writing)

Edmund King (English and Creative Writing)

John Maiden (Religious Studies)

Shafquat Towheed (English and Creative Writing)

John Wolffe (Religious Studies)


The Research Group on War and Conflict in the Twentieth Century organises a programme of workshops, symposia, and conferences every year. More details on our forthcoming and past events can be seen below.

Recent events

‘British imperialism in the Middle East during the First World War and its aftermath’, workshop, 5 July 2019.

‘Towards an international history of the Strategic Defence Initiative’, international conference, 31 May and 1 June 2019.

‘Contested Commemorations: Reflections on the centenary of the First World War, 2013-2019’, symposium, 17 May 2019.

‘Humour and the First World War’, workshop, 20 June 2018.

‘Nuclear diplomacy in the “Second Cold War”: New perspectives of NATO and the Euromissile Crisis’, workshop, 26 March 2018.

Contact us:

Annika Mombauer (on matters related to the First World War)

Luc-André Brunet (on matters related to the Second World War and the Cold War)

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