Media reports in Australia and the UK are beginning to reveal official plans for First World War commemorative activities in both countries. In Australia, the new conservative coalition government, led by Prime Minister Tony Abbot, is committed to a widespread program developed by its Labour predecessor. Abbot recently flagged the possibility of a new ‘Arlington-style’ war cemetery in the Australian capital, Canberra. A report on the proposal is available at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/abbott-flags-arlingtonstyle–national-war-cemetery-for-act-20131018-2vrvm.html.
This proposal apparently came as a surprise to other officials involved in shaping the national agenda for the ‘Anzac Centenary’, including the Director of the Australian War Memorial (AWM). The AWM is refurbishing its First World War gallery and organising other projects for the 2014-1018 period, as described in detail on https://www.awm.gov.au/1914-1918/. A more complete description of Australia-wide government-supported activity is available here: http://www.anzaccentenary.gov.au.
Meanwhile, other commentators have coined the phrase ‘Anzackery’ to describe the ‘obsession with Anzac myth and legend’ on both sides of politics. This more critical perspective, one that is relatively recent in mainstream discussion of the Anzac myth, holds open the possibility of a more complex and nuanced discussion of the role of the Anzac narrative in shaping contemporary Australian politics and society. See Paul Daley’s thoughtful discussion in the Australian edition of The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/14/australia-anzac-legend-centenary-war
A similarly critical approach seems to be taking place in the UK, with the BBC recently announcing its approach to the 2014-18 period. The senior executive in charge of this material stressed that during the centenary period, the BBC ‘would explore the impact of the conflict on Britain’s economy, its class system and its place in the world.’ Read more at http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/ww1-beyond-the-mud-and-trenches-bbcs-plans-for-the-centenary-of-world-war-one-8877564.html
We’d love to hear more about what is being planned in other countries.