Until very recently, the contribution of people from the former colonies to the two world wars has largely been relegated to the sub-text of mainstream coverage. Whose Remembrance? is an AHRC-funded Imperial War Museum project, funded through the Connected Communities programme, which aims to help restore this unfairly forgotten history to its rightful place in our consciousness – an investigation into the state of research into the experiences of the peoples of Britain’s former empire in the wars and its availability to 21st-century British audiences and communities. Find out more in a feature on the AHRC website.
Last month, Suzanne Bardgett, Head of Research at the Imperial War Museums, came to the AHRC to share their plans for researching the First World War in this important year, and to share a film, the outcome of an AHRC-funded project.
Whose Remembrance? began as a scoping study under the Connected Communities programme which explored the colonial experience of the two World Wars. The findings were so compelling that the project later received follow on funding for dissemination, and the film is both a part of and a celebration of that.
The film, Bargett explained, is about doing history, rather than about the history itself. It is clear that colonial troops and labourers were often exploited for the war effort, but the film is upbeat because it shows how researchers are dynamically uncovering, reflecting on, and sharing their stories.
As is clear from much of the coverage and stories shared on this blog and elsewhere, there is no one war experience or narrative. The First World War was different for all nationalities and individuals. There is to date no feature film in the UK about colonial war service, despite the many other films that spring to mind (from Oh! What a Lovely War  to War Horse ). The colonial story has often been overlooked, but Whose Remembrance? seeks to change that.
The film hopes to inform teachers and policy-makers, and to inspire other projects addressing the experience of colonial subjects in times of conflict. Already, it has been shown at the UK’s House of Commons, to school groups, and as far afield as New Zealand and Bangladesh – themselves both former British colonies. Now, you can watch and share the film in full via Youtube.