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Military Yorkshire

Military Yorkshire is a cross-university project designed to promote the understanding of Yorkshire as a county which is characterised in important ways by the military and associated civilian activity.

The project has come about through contacts between a range of academics at Leeds Metropolitan University, local communities, the armed services and peace action groups.

The Military Yorkshire website aims to promote awareness of the militarised character of the county as it has arisen, how it exists today and how it may evolve in the future.

Mode of conflict and ideas of war
The website begins its story of the militarisation of Yorkshire in the Age of Empire in the 19th Century when army Yorkshire regiments fought in a range of colonial wars. The 20th Century saw both globalisation of conflicts and dramatic changes in the technology used.
Forms of conflict became increasing encompassing of civilian populations and involved greatly extended forms of intelligence gathering as the world became polarised between East and West during the Cold War. Today we are fighting a new “War on Terror”. In each era ideas have provided a rationale for the conflict and have explained its outcome.

Industry and Military Technology
The development of weapons technology from the 19th Century has become increasingly science-based and nationally procured. These processes have meant that Yorkshire industrialists and scientists in both peace and war have been in the forefront of technology and manufacture. Defence-based industries still play a significant role in the regional economy.

Environmental Impacts
Whilst it is focussed on the region, one of the issues which emerges is that military activities are not simply local but are global in their scope. Moreover, military activities are not only conventional in the sense of operating on the land, sea and in the air, but today use satellite technology and may in the future involve weapons in near space. The landscape of Yorkshire is marked by the extent of military heritage and the active sites of military operations today.

Politics of Militarisation
The emergence of “Total” wars in the 20th Century meant that the institutions of civil society, the state and the military grew closer together to confront not only external enemies but also the threats of internal subversion and more recently terrorism. Understanding these political developments help us to reflect on the nature of current relationships between civil society and the armed forces.

Resistance and Militarisation
Whilst having the sanction of the state, nevertheless military and military related activities always carry a significant moral weight. The nature of these moral concerns has lead to the growth of active resistance to the extension of militarisation both at an individual and collective level, from the actions of individual conscientious objectors in war to the growth of the contemporary peace movement. Both these elements can be seen in the past record of the County and today.

A first draft version of the Military Yorkshire website is now available at

For more details about or comments on the project please email Ed Walley - Head Sociology/Social Policy, School of the Built Environment, Leeds Metropolitan University

Created by webb01
Last modified 03-11-2006 04:35 PM

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