Marjan Centre for the Study of War and the Non-Human Sphere
In the study of war and conflict one of the missing dimensions is their impact on the ‘non-human’ sphere: this covers the Earth’s ecosystems, fauna and flora and natural resources as well as the atmosphere, and they are the focus of The Marjan Centre for the Study of War and the Non Human Sphere.
The centre’s work is not only both pioneering and unique by combining an understanding of strategic concepts as well as violent crime with the ‘non human’ sphere, the work also speaks to issues that are shaped by the contemporary world.
Migration, food and water shortages and their environmental consequences can lead to conflict; poor legal enforcement, such as being applied to the environment during and after war or the exploding illegal wildlife trade, allows perpetrators to go unchecked; or conflict and violence can be prompted by the rush for resources.
The results are wide and varied: ‘eco-terrorism’, violent grass-roots protests against resource extraction, ‘green’ crime, ‘water wars’ and ‘rhino wars’ as well as how climate change ‘drives’ conflict, these are just some examples. Understanding war and the ‘non human’ sphere is also a significant ‘pathway’ into understanding the dynamics of intervention and a sustainable post-conflict framework.
The Marjan Centre for the Study of War and the Non Human Sphere was formed in 2012 under the academic direction of Professor Michael Rainsborough, current Head of the Department of War Studies and Professor of Strategic Theory.
The centre offers a unique MA module, ‘War and the Non Human Sphere’, and has steadily developed an inter-disciplinary approach both within King’s College as well as with other academic institutions and outside organisations. Additionally, it has an ‘outreach’ policy supported by Major General (ret.) Peter Davies, CB, as Honorary Patron, that includes the Marjan-Marsh Award which is given annually to someone who has made an invaluable contribution to an area where conflict and conservation overlap.
(The Marjan Centre is named after a lion ‘Marjan’, who survived Afghanistan’s violence while living inside Kabul zoo between 1978-2002 before dying of old age; having lived through such vast upheaval and fighting ‘Marjan’ seemed an appropriate symbol of both ‘conflict’ and the ‘non human sphere’).