Tag Archives: commemoration

Whose Remembrance?

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 [1969] to War Horse [2011]). 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.

Voices of war and peace

How does World War One connect with the lives of young people? What does it mean to young people today when we talk about the trenches or Zeppelin attacks, rationing or shellshock? What about those who came to live here as a result of conflict, both past and present? What does the commemoration of a war mean to them?

These and many others are all questions that will be explored by a new World War One Engagement Centre over the next few years. Based in Birmingham, the questions have added importance as Birmingham is a culturally diverse city and one with the youngest population in Europe.

Among the other questions the Centre will explore are questions around the legacy of the War – not only what happened between 1914 and 1918 but also the impact that the War continued to have during subsequent years, for example, by 1916 training programmes for soldiers with disabilities were being held in Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter and by 1930 child guidance clinics had been set up – almost certainly the result of the emotional turmoil caused to youngsters during the War.

As well as exploring the impact of the Great War on communities in Birmingham and the Midlands, the Centre will focus on themes of national importance. These include Gender and the Home Front, led by Professor Maggie Andrews from the University of Worcester, Belief and the Great War, led by Dr Michael Snape from the University of Birmingham, and Commemoration, led by Dr Joanne Sayner also from the University of Birmingham.

Voices of War and Peace: the Great War and its legacy is one of five new First World War Engagement centres set up by the AHRC to connect academic and public histories of the First World War and its legacy. A University of Birmingham-led initiative, the Centre also involves academics from Birmingham City University, Newman University, the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Worcester, and is based at the recently-opened Library of Birmingham. The Centre is led by Professor Ian Grosvenor, the Centre Coordinator is Dr Nicola Gauld, and there are seven Co-Investigators from the five partner institutions. In addition there are over 30 cultural partners including the Cheltenham Festivals, the BBC and YMCA England.

The Centre is formally launched in Birmingham next Friday (21st March).

For further information, please go to the centre website (opens in new window)

Nicola Gauld

voicesofwarandpeace

World War One at Home – Friday 28th February across the BBC

By the fifth day, World War One at Home is starting to hit its stride as communities engage with the stories already shared, and start to share their own stories and share their views on Twitter and through phone ins.

Professor Jane Chapman (University of Lincoln), one of the AHRC-funded advisers on World War One at Home, appeared on BBC Radio Cambridge for a phone in debate about WW1’s legacy and if and how it should be taught in schools. You can listen again online to the thought-provoking discussion – it starts from 1h06m20s. This debate topically follows on from the media furore around ‘left wing myths’ about WW1.

Roger Deeks (University of Birmingham), another AHRC-funded adviser on World War One appeared on the morning show on BBC Radio Gloucestershire who surveyed some of the things that have already come out of the series there. You can listen again online to Roger’s discussion of the Gloucestershire stories – it starts from 2h36m50s. One local story reveals how a man from Amberley worked to improve how the dead were recorded and how their graves were maintained – Fabian Ware, one man, responsible for the dignified resting places of many thousands of fallen troops.

As World War One at Home continues through this centenary year, many more poignant stories like this will be revealed, and many more debates on the legacy of the conflict will be had. For now, it is clear that after just one week, many radio listeners and television audiences in the UK think differently about their locale and its place in the First World War.