Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-7ccbd9845f-dzwm5 Total loading time: 0.405 Render date: 2023-01-31T18:12:07.968Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Commemorating Race and Empire in the First World War Centenary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2020

Ben Wellings
Affiliation:
Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Matthew Graves
Affiliation:
RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Shanti Sumartojo
Affiliation:
Aix Marseille Univ, LERMA, EA853, Aix-en-Provence, France
Ben Wellings
Affiliation:
Ben Wellings is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Monash University in Melbourne Australia.
Shanti Sumartojo
Affiliation:
Shanti Sumartojo is a Vice Chancellor's Research Fellow in the Digital Ethnography Research Centre in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia.
Get access

Summary

Introduction

In November 2016, at the halfway point of the First World War Centenary, a modest exhibition based on volunteer research and supported by the UK Heritage Lottery Fund opened in the London suburb of Wood Green. Far from the Western Front presented accounts of South Asian servicemen who served across the many theatres of war. It was only mounted for a few days, but it sought to complicate both the dominant British narrative of the First World War as trench warfare in France and Belgium, and common depiction of the British forces as white. By focusing on the ‘untold stories of South Asians whose crucial contribution shaped the First World War’ the exhibit sought to remind (or inform) visitors that ‘there was more to the First World War than the mud and trenches of Europe’. The exhibit rediscovered stories that sought to shift common perceptions of the Great War in London and introduce alternative threats and hardships into the collective memory of the War: ‘the threat of lions on patrol in East Africa, thirst in the 50 degree heat of the Sinai desert, and starvation at the Siege of Kut’.

Yet if such broader experiences were common to many millions of people outside of Europe in 1914-1918, the representation of this aspect of the Great War was in a decidedly minor key in 2014-2018. David Olusoga argues that ‘the First World War has a unique characteristic that has – among another consequences – come to submerge the war's multinational, multi-ethnic and multiracial dimensions’. This book explores why this was the case and engages directly with the question of how race and empire were understood during the war, and how subaltern narratives were recognised, forgotten or commemo–rated one hundred years later. It shows why and how non-national narratives of region, race and empire were elided, forgotten and occasionally commemo–rated in particular ways at particular times and in particular places during the First World War centenary.

At its core is the argument that this process of remembering and forgetting has been conditioned in three important ways:

  • What gets commemorated and by whom in 2014-2018 is significantly condi–tioned by the demands of the nation-state within the dynamics of the interna–tional state system – in this sense commemoration is shaped horizontally;

  • Type
    Chapter
    Information
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press
    Print publication year: 2018

    Access options

    Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

    Save book to Kindle

    To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Available formats
    ×

    Save book to Dropbox

    To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

    Available formats
    ×

    Save book to Google Drive

    To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

    Available formats
    ×