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“But How Many Actually Died ? Counting Civilian Deaths in Recent Wars”
This seminar covers two areas. The first is a 10 minute introduction to The Demography of Conflict based on the author’s new chapter for Beginning Population Studies (3rd Edition) demonstrating how changes in the nature of warfare since the end of the Cold War have altered both the demography and geography of war. The second is a 30 minute discussion of one of the most politically controversial areas in demography: the numbers of deaths of the military on the battlefield, versus direct deaths of civilians from military violence, and the ‘excess’ civilian deaths which occur as an indirect result of war. Whilst it has become a worn-out cliché to say that recent wars have produced more civilian casualties than military deaths during fighting, the actual ratio is much contested. Estimates of the percentage of ‘excess’ deaths due to indirect mortality as a proportion of all deaths due to war vary from 30% to 95% (Wise 2017). This presentation endeavours to untangle some of the mysteries involved in determining levels of ‘excess’ mortality, including why it is that francophone demographers include babies who were never born among the victims of war.
Helen Ware is Foundation Professor of Peace Studies at the University of New England. As a humanitarian and former Australian diplomat she regrets the current belief that slanting the statistics of war may be acceptable in a good cause. As a demographer trained by the late Professor Jack Caldwell at ANU, she has a special interest in the demography of peace and war on which she has written a chapter for Beginning Population Studies which is in part the basis for this seminar.