An international, multidisciplinary symposium in Aotearoa New Zealand concerned with intrastate conflicts, their legacies, and reconciliation organised by:

  • Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
  • Massey University Te Kunenga Ki Pūrehuroa
  • Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage
  • WHAM (War History Heritage Art and Memory) Research Network

The Symposium’s framing of intrastate conflict (or civil war) within an international and historical context (with significant Aotearoa New Zealand and Pacific content) is unique, timely, and relevant to both local and international audiences. The organisers believe the Symposium and its outputs will have a transformative and ongoing impact.

Ko te hoe waka, ko te rangimarie, ko te aroha

More about the symposium

// 2023
Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
Auckland Domain
New Zealand
Sunday evening 16 April

Powhiri, welcomes & opening address

Friday 21 April

Post-symposium opt-in field trip. Details to follow.

Monday 17 – Thursday 20 April:

Symposium presentations & discussion

Framing the symposium

Few countries – including New Zealand –have escaped the scourge of internal conflict and today the list of nations embroiled in such conflicts is extensive: ‘[s]ince 1989, an average of twenty intrastate wars have been in progress at any moment.’[1] Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen are notable examples, but there are many others that do not feature regularly in news stories. ‘Civil war has gradually become the most widespread, the most destructive, and the most characteristic form of organized human violence.’[2] Since 1945, intrastate conflicts have resulted in the fighting-related deaths of over 25 million people and have had significant impacts on the lives of many millions of survivors. Historical conflicts within nations often leave a legacy of grievance and hostility between former warring parties.

[1] David Armitage, Civil wars: A history in ideas (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), 5.
[2] Ibid., 5.

Intrastate conflicts are characterised by a multitude of perspectives, experiences, cultures, histories, and sites. The vision of the Scarred Nations Symposium organising committee is for the event to draw together these diverse facets of internal war into a shared conceptual space. While other international events generally take markedly disciplinary approaches, the Scarred Nations organising partners hope the framing of diverse instances of intrastate war within a multi-perspectival lens will encourage the examination of intrastate conflict in a way that has not been done previously, locally or internationally. Our aspiration is that the symposium will facilitate new perspectives and opportunities for collaboration through the sharing of different worldviews via the media of different disciplines. The symposium aims to bring together leading national and international scholars, thinkers, creative practitioners and those with direct experience. Speakers will represent considerable geographic and ethnic diversity which is appropriate to engage with the complex, global nature of intrastate conflict. They will contribute to defining and framing the many and varied topics as well as presenting models for seeking reconciliation, both historical and contemporary.

Likely themes include:

  • Defining the terms ‘intrastate conflict’ or ‘civil war’ and exploring their complexity
  • Perspectives on the New Zealand Wars / Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa / Ngā Pakanga Whenua o Mua
  • Human rights: victims, genocide, targeting civilians, sexual violence, child soldiers, civilian displacement / refugees
  • Religion
  • Health and medicine
  • Issues of economy, including environmental and resource economics
  • Development, law and justice
  • Creative expression
  • Sites
  • History and political science
  • Recording and memorialisation
  • Peacekeeping
  • Conflict resolution and reunification
  • Trauma and catharsis
  • Forensics and learning to live with the past
  • Historical and contemporary legacies
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The organising partners aspire to all new understanding and knowledge acquired from local and international experiences shared in Scarred Nations. As well as the more conventional modes of academic dissemination such as book and journal publications, we hope to produce podcasts of the Symposium presentations, and other potential resources for ‘Aotearoa New Zealand histories’ in the national curriculum will be available. The last session of Scarred Nations, including all symposium participants, will be dedicated to a review of the event. The intention of the review, guided by the organising partners, will be to encourage participants to discuss ways to harness the symposium’s momentum in order to develop new, collaborative initiatives. Thus, the aspiration is that the ongoing impact of the Symposium will be wide-reaching, influential, transformational, and enduring.

And what of Covid?

We aspire to present a substantially face-to-face event. However, given the current global pandemic it is prudent to plan for alternative means of presentation if required. Options include both hybrid face-to-face/online and wholly online events enabled by significant technical support. Pre-recorded video presentations may be required for some international keynotes.

Scarred Nations Symposium Organising Committee

David Reeves

Kahutoi Te Kanawa

Kingsley Baird

David Littlewood

Neill Atkinson

Steve Watters

Euan Robertson

Liz Ward

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Massey University Te Kunenga Ki Pūrehuroa

Massey University Te Kunenga Ki Pūrehuroa

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Independent Scholar

Symposium Administrator