2021 Sir Michael Howard Centre Annual Lecture - The Metrics of War: Excess Mortality and the Politics of Counting

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 approach 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.

This event will be held in the Great Hall, Strand Building, King’s College, London and will also be available online, please register for either a physical attendance or virtual ticket. See below.