Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

Annual Lecture - The metrics of war: Excess mortality and the politics of counting - 8 December 2021

Please note that this event has passed.

Please join the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War for this year's Annual Lecture with Dr Erica Charters, Associate Professor of Global History and the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford.

Modern wars are often evaluated numerically, whether through the toll of those killed or through financial costs. So-called body counts, first used publicly during the US Vietnam War, for example, highlight how numbers of casualties are crucial political as well as military concerns. Yet this quantitative approaches to war is not simply a reflection of the general statistical turn in modern societies. Instead, it was war that drove this statistical turn. Early modern European warfare was a crucial site for spreading numeracy and developing statistical practices and technologies.

In this lecture, Dr Charters will examine the history of counting in warfare across the early modern and modern period, showing how the methods of European war focused political attention on manpower and death rates, thereby developing concepts of acceptable and excess mortality.


Due to the new Covid variant and associated restrictions, this event will be held online, please register via Eventbrite for a virtual ticket.



Dr Erica Charters is Associate Professor of Global History and the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford. She has published widely on the history of war and empires, and is a recipient of the Society for Army Historical Research Templer Medal for Best First Book. Her publications include Disease, War, and the Imperial State; A Global History of Early Modern Violence (co-edited with Marie Houllemare and Peter Wilson); and Civilians and War in Europe, 1618-1815 (co-edited with Hannah Smith and Eve Rosenhaft). She is Senior Vice President of the Navy Records Society, Executive Committee Member of the Society for the History of War, and co-directs the interdisciplinary project ‘Body Counts / les pertes’.

We hope to be able to hold this event at the Strand Building, King's College London, subject to the university's Covid-19 regulations. You will be able to choose to register for physical attendance (limited number available), or to access the virtual live stream. We will notify you ahead of the event to confirm whether or not the event is taking place in person. 

Please register for your ticket via Eventbrite

Minard - wiki commons image
Charles Minard (1781-1870), ‘Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l’Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie’ (1869)

Search for another event