Revisiting Commemoration. Practices, uses and appropriations of the Centenary of the Great War

English/French

Revisiting Commemoration. Practices, uses and appropriations of the Centenary of the Great War

Revisiter la commémoration. Pratiques, usages et appropriations du Centenaire de la Grande Guerre

Call for Papers : deadline December 15 2015 – International Conference 24-25 March 2016

Appel à communications : date limite 15 décembre 2015 – Colloque international 24-25 mars 2016

Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense / Archives Nationales

 

Revisiting_commemoration_CFP

Publication: Symposium on the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War

A symposium convened by Professor Joan Beaumont (ANU) on the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War in Australia, France, the UK, the US and Germany has been published this October in the Australian Journal of Political Science.

The articles can be accessed on http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cajp20/50/3 (scroll down to the middle of the page).

These short articles provide insights in the different ways in which nations and peoples remember and commemorate (or not) the centenary of the First World War.

 

Français:

Publication : Symposium comparatif sur la commémoration du centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale.

Un symposium coordonné par le Professeur Joan Beaumont (ANU) sur les commémorations officielles du centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale en Australie, en France, au Royaume-Uni en Allemagne et aux Etats-Unis a paru dans l’Australian Journal of Political Science.

Les articles sont présentés en milieu de page sur http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cajp20/50/3

Les articles sont courts et, lus ensemble, mettent en lumière des contrastes importants dans l’organisation du centenaire dans les pays à l’étude.

Marseille 1915-2015: gateway to the remembrance trails

International conference

Aix-Marseille University – Marseille Archives

Marseille 1915-2015: gateway to the remembrance trails

Marseille 1915-2015 : portail des chemins de mémoire

Thursday 9 April, Marseille Archives (Amphitheatre)

8:45 Opening address: Sylvie Clair (Director, Marseille Archives)

Chair: Gilles Teulié (Aix-Marseille)

9:00 Jean-Marie Guillon (Aix-Marseille), “Marseille porte de la France et de la Méditerranée.”

9:40 Marco Caccavo (EIPACA) “La Légion garibaldienne : les Italiens qui servirent la France pendant la Grande Guerre.”

10:20 Matthew Graves (Aix-Marseille) “‘Nos Alliés à Marseille’ : histoires croisées, mémoires partagées ?”

11:00 Coffee break

Chair: Martine Piquet (Paris-Dauphine/ ICT Paris-Diderot)

11:20 Gilles Teulié (Aix-Marseille), “L’Empire britannique à Marseille : les cartes postales, vecteur du premier cercle de la mémoire.”

12:00 Thierry Di Costanzo (Strasbourg) “L’Empire britannique des Indes et la Première Guerre Mondiale : une approche historiographique et mémorielle.”

12:40 Lunch

Chair: Matthew Graves (Aix-Marseille)

14:20 Cherie Prosser (Australian War Memorial) “Colonial forces and national identity in First World War French and British propaganda.”

15:00 Martine Piquet (Paris-Dauphine) “Charles E.W. Bean’s account of the Australian arrival in France.”

15:40 Deirdre Gilfedder (Paris-Dauphine) “The Invention of Anzac Day in Queensland.”

16:00 Coffee break

Chair: Deirdre Gilfedder (Paris-Dauphine/ ICT Paris-Diderot)

16:20 Ben Wellings (Monash) “Nation and Rejuvenation: youth and the politics of Great War commemoration in Australia.”

17:00 Andy Mycock (Huddersfield) “The First World War centenary and the post-imperial politics of commemoration.”

17:40-18:00 Summing-up

Conference dinner

****

Friday 10 April, Marseille Archives (Seminar room)

9:00 Round table: “Politics of the Past: the Centenary Effect.”

Chair: Andy Mycock (Huddersfield)

Discussion paper: Romain Fathi (Brisbane), “The (re)discovery of 1914-18.”

10:30 Coffee break

11:00 Workshop: “The Wider War” (“Nation, Memory and War Commemoration, vol.2”, Presses Universitaires de Provence – Liverpool University Press)

Chair: Ben Wellings (Monash)

Discussion paper: Elizabeth Rechniewki (Sydney), “Resénégalisation in World War I.”

12:30 Lunch

14:00 Guided visit of the exhibition “Marseillais fais ton devoir !” (Marseille Archives)

15:00 Conclusion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organisers

Matthew Graves & Gilles Teulié (AMU/LERMA)

Centre for the Study of the Anglophone World, Aix-Marseille University

Matthew.Graves@univ-amu.fr

Gilles.Teulie@univ-amu.fr

 

Scientific committee

Matthew Graves (Aix-Marseille University/LERMA/CREDO)

Jean-Marie Guillon (Aix-Marseille University/TELEMME)

Andy Mycock (Huddersfield University)

Martine Piquet (Paris-Dauphine University/ ICT Paris-Diderot)

Elizabeth Rechniewski (University of Sydney)

Shanti Sumartojo (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University)

Gilles Teulié (Aix-Marseille University/LERMA)

Ben Wellings (Monash University)

 

Partners

Australian War Memorial, City of Marseille, Huddersfield University, International Research Network for War Commemoration, Marseille Archives, Monash University, Paris-Dauphine University, RMIT University, University of Sydney.

 

“Mission du Centenaire 14-18”

 

Revisiting Religion and the British Soldier in the First World War

The Friends of Dr Williams’s Library Annual Lecture will be delivered at 5.30pm on 13 November 2014 in the Lecture Hall, Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AR.

‘Revisiting Religion and the British Soldier in the First World War’ by Dr Michael Snape (University of Birmingham)

The significance of religion for the British soldier of 1914-1918 has traditionally been downplayed, and even discounted, in the historiography and popular mythology of the First World War. However, more recent research has tended to highlight the importance of personal faith and the role of religious agencies in the British experience of the war. Going further than the case of Great Britain, and beyond the years of the war itself, this lecture examines patterns of religiosity in the British army, correlates them with the evidence of other armed forces and other conflicts, and reassesses the nature and significance of religion for the British soldier throughout the ordeal of the First World War.

All are welcome. To book a place, please email conference@dwlib.co.uk.

For more information about the Lectures, see http://fodwllectures.wordpress.com

Nation, Memory and Great War Commemoration – book launch

Nation, Memory and Great War Commemoration – Mobilizing the Past in Europe, Australia and New Zealand (Peter Lang, 2014) edited by Shanti Sumartojo & Ben Wellings

will be launched by Dr Douglas Craig – Head, School of History, ANU.

Date and Time: 5.30pm, Monday 4 August 2014

Venue: ANU Centre for European Studies, 1 Liversidge Street (Bldg 67C), Canberra

Parking: please see the Visitor Parking Map 
RSVP:
 europe@anu.edu.au by 1 August 2014

ANUCES is an initiative involving four ANU Colleges (Arts and Social Sciences, Law, Business and Economics, and Asia and the Pacific) co-funded by the ANU and the European Union.

NMGWC cover

The Great War continues to play a prominent role in contemporary consciousness. With commemorative activities involving seventy-two countries, its centenary is a titanic undertaking: not only ‘the centenary to end all centenaries’ but the first truly global period of remembrance.

This publication is based on a  symposium hosted by the ANU Centre for European Studies in 2012. In this innovative volume, the authors examine First World War commemoration in an international, multidisciplinary and comparative context. The contributions draw on history, politics, geography, cultural studies and sociology to interrogate the continuities and tensions that have shaped national commemoration and the social and political forces that condition this unique international event. New studies of Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific address the relationship between increasingly fractured grand narratives of history and the renewed role of the state in mediating between individual and collective memories. Released to coincide with the beginning of the 2014-2018 centenary period, this collection illuminates the fluid and often contested relationships amongst nation, history and memory in Great War commemoration.

For more information please see http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?event=cmp.ccc.seitenstruktur.detailseiten&seitentyp=produkt&pk=72209

Nation, Memory and Great War Commemoration (Peter Lang, 2014)

NMGWC_cover

‘Nation, Memory and Great War Commemoration: Mobilizing the Past in Europe, Australia and New Zealand’, edited by IRNWC co-founders Shanti Sumartojo and Ben Wellings, is now in print and available to order from the publisher Peter Lang:

http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?event=cmp.ccc.seitenstruktur.detailseiten&seitentyp=produkt&pk=72209&concordeid=430937

Released to coincide with the beginning of the 2014-18 Great War centenary, this innovative volume combines the research of 16 members of the IRNWC who provide an international, multidisciplinary and comparative approach to the national commemorations of the First World War and the internationalization of the politics of the past. The studies range across Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific and illuminate the continuities, tensions and contradictions in the complex interrelations between nation, history, and memory in Great War commemoration.

Contents

Andrew Mycock/Shanti Sumartojo/Ben Wellings: ‘The centenary to end all centenaries’: The Great War, Nation and Commemoration – John Hutchinson: National Commemoration after the ‘Second Thirty Years’ War’ – Ben Wellings: Lest You Forget: Memory and Australian Nationalism in a Global Era – Roger Hillman: From No Man’s Land to Transnational Spaces: The Representation of Great War Memory in Film – Frank Bongiorno: Anzac and the Politics of Inclusion – Andrew Mycock: The Politics of the Great War Centenary in the United Kingdom – James W. McAuley: Divergent Memories: Remembering and Forgetting the Great War in Loyalist and Nationalist Ireland – Laurence van Ypersele: The Great War in Belgian Memories: From Unanimity to Divergence – Mark McKenna: Keeping in Step: The Anzac ‘Resurgence’ and ‘Military Heritage’ in Australia and New Zealand – Matthew Graves: Memorial Diplomacy in Franco-Australian Relations – Elizabeth Rechniewski: Contested Sites of Memory: Commemorating Wars and Warriors in New Caledonia – Matthew Stibbe: Remembering, Commemorating and (Re)fighting the Great War in Germany from 1919 to the Present Day – Sarah Christie: The Sinking of the Marquette: Gender, Nationalism and New Zealand’s Great War Remembrance – Guy Hansen: Museums and the Great War: A Curator’s Perspective on the History of Anzac – Christine Cadot: Wars Afterwards: The Repression of the Great War in European Collective Memory – Romain Fathi: ‘A Piece of Australia in France’: Australian Authorities and the Commemoration of Anzac Day at Villers-Bretonneux in the Last Decade – Shanti Sumartojo: Anzac Kinship and National Identity on the Australian Remembrance Trail.

Planning for First World War commemoration in Australia and the UK

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.

FxCam_1345641290622-1Meanwhile, 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 Guardianhttp://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.

Review of Romain Fathi: Représentations muséales du corps combattant de 14-18

Représentations muséales du corps combattant de 14-18: The Australian War Memorial de Canberra au prisme de l’Historial de la Grande Guerre de Péronne

RMCC1

In this study of the Australian War Memorial through the optic of the Historial at Péronne in Northern France, Romain Fathi offers a fascinating reflection on the contrasting orientation of the two institutions towards the representation of war. This is not a comparative study in the strict sense of the term since Fathi recognises that they are not strictly comparable – the mission of each, the period of their inauguration, the scope of their collections., are very different, as the titles of the institutions reveal. The Memorial, inaugurated in 1941, was raised to record, commemorate and celebrate the service of soldiers in Australia’s external wars; the Historial, opened in 1992, was the result of a conscious and considered decision by historians to avoid heroisation of war and to induce reflection on the way WWI has been represented. However Fathi, through establishing a series of analytical oppositions that he sees as uncovering the fundamental characteristics of each, demonstrates how revealing it is to study each institution in the context of the other.

His main focus, as the title suggests, is on the representations of the soldier’s body: the way that war is enacted by bodies and its effect on bodies, and his guiding thread in undertaking the comparison is the opposition between verticality and horizontality. At the AWM the soldier is typically represented holding himself erect or in an active, attacking position, confronting the enemy head on, exposing himself to danger, sacrificing himself in a heroic élan that is a conscious choice. At Péronne, through the device of displaying much of the material in a series of ditches sunk into the floor, the emphasis is on the horizontality of war fought in the trenches. The soldiers are not represented as heroic figures in frontal combat but as mere elements of uniform, laid out in the earth, drab as camouflage demanded. The items displayed at Péronne bear mute witness to the inequality of a combat that pitched heavy artillery against the almost defenceless human body.  At the AWM, however, the injured are usually depicted in ways that minimise the dismemberment, blood and gore of battle.

Péronne displays the modernity of this war that was without precedent, the anonymous nature of the struggle that saw men wiped out by an invisible enemy, its industrial nature. The AWM continues the epic tradition, representing combat (notably in the dioramas to which Bean attached such importance) as a series of battles with visible enemies. The dioramas, pictures and sculptures chosen or commissioned for the Memorial drew on a traditional artistic vocabulary of heroic military conduct. Fathi devotes considerable attention to the sculptures of Simpson and his donkey, using this case study to demonstrate, through a study of the letters exchanged between the instigators of the Memorial and the artists, that the latter had to conform to certain constraints concerning ‘what the public expected to see’.

The author draws upon a wide range of material to illustrate and substantiate his argument: correspondence; visitors’ books; the comments of museum guides and personnel; tours for children that offer ‘real-life’ experiences of wartime conditions. He explores how the physical characteristics of the institutions: the layout of the buildings and disposition of the rooms (an important passage on the significance of the room devoted to the Victoria Crosses won by Australians), together with the selection and display of items, all combine, he argues, to orient the visitor towards a certain experience of war. The gap between representation and interpretation can be wide, however, and, as Fathi recognises (170), he cannot be sure what message the visitors are in fact taking away with them. This is one of a number of intriguing questions raised by this study, for future consideration. To offer another example, since among the historians responsible for the Historial was a group who argued for the existence of ‘patriotic consent’ amongst the belligerents (68), it would be interesting to explore what impact this theoretical orientation may have had on the collections and presentation at Peronne.

The AWM offers a rich field for reflection on the multiple ways in which commemorative, political and military imperatives and priorities impact on the design and functioning of a museum.  The final chapter brings the story of the Memorial up to the present with an analysis of the mutually beneficial relationship forged between recent Australian Prime Ministers and the AWM, a relationship that accords legitimacy to the politician and the assurance of funds to the Memorial (which is financed by a special Government grant).

Recognising that a museum is oriented to the present and the future as much as to the past, Fathi poses finally the question of the model of citizenship the AWM promotes, arguing that it seeks to instill a sense of civic virtue based on self-sacrifice and an incitement to emulation in the young. In this regard it is interesting to note that last year’s AWM report stated that it had achieved 125,800 student visits in 2010-11, the highest number ever recorded.

Représentations muséales makes a very valuable contribution to the fields of Museum and Memory Studies, sharpening our awareness of the role that the diverse features of the War Museum – design of the building, displays, artwork, literature – play in constructing narratives of conflict.

Paris. L’Harmattan, 2013

ISBN : 978-2-336-00579-9

22 euros (print)

16 euros (Adobe digital edition)

Elizabeth Rechniewski, University of Sydney

 

 

Histories of Forgetting

Now in print, the latest issue of E-rea, Aix-Marseille University’s electronic journal of anglophone studies, takes as its theme Histories of Forgetting in the English and French-speaking Worlds, 20th-21st centuries:

http://erea.revues.org/2734
Co-edited by Matthew Graves (LERMA/APMC) and Valérie André (LERMA), issue 10.1 brings together researchers from France, Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland who explore, from a transdisciplinary social and human sciences perspective, the lacunae in collective memory and the lost, concealed or censored episodes of the national past; those ‘forgotten’ histories that persist in counterpoint to canonical histories and conventional narratives of identity or which, once reconverted, may be used to underwrite them.

Histories of ‘forgotten’ conflicts feature prominently, with case studies drawn from the First and Second World Wars, including the struggle for the recognition of Australia’s aboriginal veterans, as well as the strategic forgetting of colonial pasts in Africa and Ireland.

“What is interesting about the latest issue of the online journal E-rea is how it redirects our attention towards European fields of memory which are less familiar than the French or German – the Northern Irish for instance – while also looking beyond Europe at Australia’s collective memory which has long been scarred by the strategic forgetting of the aboriginal past.” Emmanuel Laurentin, La Fabrique de l’Histoire, France Culture, 11/01/2013

https://www.franceculture.fr/blog-la-semaine-historique-d-emmanuel-laurentin-2013-01-11-la-semaine-du-110113

General editor: Prof. Sylvie Mathé (LERMA/AMU)

Contents

Editors: Matthew Graves & Valérie André (AMU)

Introduction:  Histories of Forgetting in the English and French-speaking Worlds, 20th-21st centuries.

I. The Colonial Past, between Forgetting and Re-appropriation

Robert Aldrich (USYD), Commemorating Colonialism in a Post-Colonial World.

Virginie Bernard (CREDO/EHESS), The Forgotten : exemple de réappropriation aborigène de lhistoire officielle australienne.

II. War Memory, from Erasure to Remembrance

Deirdre Gilfedder (Paris XI), The Imperial Nature of the Australian National War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.

Ciaran Wallace  (UCD), Between Remembering and Forgetting: Ireland and the Boer War.

Elizabeth Rechniewski (USYD), Forgetting and Remembering the Darwin Bombings.

III. Difficult Pasts and Reconciliation

Stanislas Hommet (UCaen), Enseigner les passes douloureux en Europe: entre oubli et hypermnésie, quelle place pour lenseignement? Présentation dun projet européen de recherche.

Karine Bigand (AMU), Peace in History and Heritage. Some thoughts on Northern Ireland.

Fabrice Mourlon (Paris XIII), Official responses to dealing with the past in Northern Ireland.

IV. Rewriting History in the Era of Commemoration

Catherine Delmas (Grenoble III), Remembering place, revisiting the past.

( …)

 

In Flanders Fields Declaration

By Laurence van Ypersele and Ben Wellings

The “In Flanders Fields Draft Declaration’ was tabled for discussion by the government of Flanders in the summer of 2010.

The politics surrounding this Draft Declaration illustrate some of the difficulties in commemorating the Great War in Belgium.   They also make an interesting contrast with the politics of remembrance in the United Kingdom, where – outside of Northern Ireland – the Centenary commemorations will be used to emphasise (British) commonality rather than national distinctiveness.

Belgium is currently divided into three major political and administrative regions: Flanders; Wallonia; and Brussels.  As a federation organised along consociational, linguistic lines, each of these regions is highly autonomous.  In this political context it was possible for the government of Flanders to draft a Declaration for discussion amongst the 50 foreign governments participating in the planning of Centenary activities in Belgium.  However, the government of Flanders sent this Draft Declaration neither to the government of Wallonia nor to the federal (Belgian) level of government.  Objections were raised from amongst the 50 foreign governments that this was inappropriate and that the diplomatic services of those foreign governments would only deal with the federal level of government in Belgium in equal government-to-government discussions.

So, when the government of Flanders, under pressure from foreign ambassadors, gave its ‘In Flanders Fields’ declaration to the federal level of government, thus making it a ‘national’ declaration, changes to the wording and meaning were proposed.

The government of Wallonia immediately suggested using the word ‘Belgium’ in place of ‘Flanders’ in the text.  It also called for recognition of the rights of minorities, explicit recognition of the involvement of soldiers and civilians in the name of freedom and democracy, and mention of the Second World War as well as the First. All of these suggestions were in some ways pointed reminders of historical divisions rather than grounds for Belgian unity, where Flemish and Walloon collective memories of twentieth century conflict diverged.

However, a political compromise was reached on October 2, 2012. After two years of political discussion, the word ‘Belgium’ can be found in the text, along with reference to the people who defended democracy and mention of the respect for ‘diversity’ (in place of ‘minorities’).  The rest of the declaration didn’t much change from the Draft.

Coverage of the Declaration announcement can be read here.

Ben Wellings

Ben Wellings is Lecturer of European Studies at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

More Posts - Website

Great War Seminars in Paris

For those living in or visiting Paris at the moment, two research seminars on the Great War are particularly indicated.

Both have been running for several years and both are public and free.  I have had the chance to attend to both and each environment provides a valuable framework in which to study various aspects of the Great War. Up-to-date academic works are presented and discussed for history is in the making in these seminars.

The first one is placed under the aegis of the EHESS (Paris).

See: http://www.ehess.fr/fr/enseignement/enseignements/2012/ue/828/

The second one is organised by the DMPA (ministry for defence, Paris):

http://www.defense.gouv.fr/actualites/memoire-et-culture/seminaire-la-grande-guerre-aujourd-hui-troisieme-saison

For your convenience, I have attached both programs.

prog2012-2013 EHESS

programme- grande guerre aujourd’hui

The Pilgrimage to the IJsertoren: Flemish nationalism and Great War commemoration

By Laurence van Ypersele and Ben Wellings

This year, as every year since 1922, the Yser Pilgrimage took place on the last Sunday of August.

This annual ceremony, that remembers and commemorates Flemish sacrifice and loss during the Great War, is organised by a Flemish nationalist committee at the IJsertoren (Yser Tower), Dixmuide.  It has also traditionally been the moment to express Flemish claims against the Belgian State.

Until the 1970s, this ceremony involved participants in their thousands.  But after the political re-organisation of Belgium into a federal state, fewer and fewer people attended.  In order to change this situation, for the first time this year, the organising Committee invited the family of Amé Fievez and the mayor of the village where he lived (Calonne, now part of Antoing in the region of Hainaut).  Fievez was a Walloon soldier who was killed alongside the Van Raemdonck brothers in 1917.  These brothers, Frans and Edward, have long been an important symbol of Flemish victimhood, combining an image of fraternal love with the long-standing sense that Walloon officers were indifferent to the casualties in the Flemish ranks.

Of course, the truth is more complicated than the employment of history in this way allows.  The grave of the brothers Van Raemdonck and Amé Fievez rests under the Yser Tower. But the Fievez’s family had to wait until the 1960s to see the names of Walloon soldiers written on the grave.  And this year, for the first time, some Walloons were invited on the Yser Pilgrimage.  The French speaking authorities of the Walloon government sent flowers, but didn’t attend because they weren’t invited. Neither were the federal authorities, nor the major Flemish political figures.  As usual, the speeches demanded more autonomy for Flanders and a  ‘Belgian Confederation’ (although in reality that means independence) so that the Flemish can finally live in peace with the Walloon community, represented on this occasion by the family of Amé Fievez and mayor of his village.

Despite this cross-communal innovation, the broader public was not particularly engaged and did not attend in large numbers.  Following the failure of this initiative the President of the Committee announced that the following year, the ceremony would take place on 11 November, billed as a “return to the origins” of the ceremony.  However, this ceremony had never taken place on Armistice Day at all.  Flemish historians as well as other Belgians immediately denounced this decision and the reasons given for it.  The reaction to that announcement demonstrated that many Flemish people who profess love Flanders don’t desire the end of Belgium. The Flemish secessionists are aware of that sentiment too, which is why they now always speak about and argue for confederation rather than full independence.

Thus we can clearly link the shift of commemorative date to an overt nationalist political project.  Armistice Day – itself suffering from waning public attendances in Blegium – will be used by Flemish nationalists in an attempt to re-legitimise and popularise their political program.  Here again we see an example of how contemporary politics shape our understanding of the Great War.

Ben Wellings

Ben Wellings is Lecturer of European Studies at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

More Posts - Website

The Great War archive online (“Europeana collections 1914-1918”)

The “Europeana Collections 1914-1918” program  is an online corpus dedicated to the Great War. Europeana Collections 1914-1918 will create by 2014 – the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War – a substantial digital collection of material from national library collections of ten libraries and other partners in eight countries that found themselves on different sides of the historic conflict.

Here is an article (in French) by Sylvie Lisiecki  about this new archive tool by the French National Library magazine (Chroniques de la BNF, n°64).

The website can be consulted here: http://www.europeana-collections-1914-1918.eu

 

UK Government and Charity Fund Auschwitz School Trips

The UK government in conjunction with the Holocaust Educational Trust is currently funding visits to Auschwitz by two pupils from each school in the UK.  This mirrors the position adopted by David Cameron in regard to war cemeteries when announcing Britain’s Great War Centenary funding earlier this month.

These two BBC reports give you a sense of what the intension of the funding is to be and how the experience will be transmitted throughout the other pupils of each school in the UK.  In times of public sector cut-backs, this initiative must be deemed important.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20001037

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-17307528

I include these here as in thinking about the Great War one hundred years after the event it is almost impossible to do so without reference to the Second World War and in particular the Holocaust. This must be particularly true in Germany, but elsewhere throughout the (western?) world too.

It would be interesting to see if these two episodes in history (the Great War and the Holocaust) become part of a broader understanding of the twentieth century at the end of the Centenary period and what that understanding might be.

Ben Wellings

Ben Wellings is Lecturer of European Studies at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

More Posts - Website

‘Looking back on the Asia-Pacific War: Art, Cinema and Media’

International Symposium to be held at the University of Sydney, 5 November 2012. Free, public event, all welcome.

The Cultural Resonance of Conflict and Reconciliation in the Australian and Japanese Imaginary.

Reconciliation is often represented as taking place at an official level between governments, through memorial diplomacy, joint ceremonies, treaties, trade agreements etc. However it can be argued that the deeper and more significant shifts in understanding are realised and expressed in symbolic form, in art and literature, ritual and ceremony. This symposium explores the cultural shifts in the post-World War II relationship between Australia and Japan, as these have been articulated in theatre, film and literature. The keynote speakers include creative artists and practitioners who have taken up the challenges of expressing and contributing to these developments in their work.

Guest speakers include:

John Romeril, Rising Sun, Red Centre

Keiji Sawada, Ngapartji Ngapartji: an Australian Indigenous Play Evoking Memories of Marralinga, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima

Michael Lewis, War and Filmic Remembrance: The Ambon Atrocity, Blood Oath, and Essential Obstacles to Reconciliation.

Additional sessions on theatre and cinema with papers by Adam Broinowski, Yasuko Claremont, Mats Karlsson and Roman Rosenbaum.

2:30-3:30 Special Session: Bringing the Spirits of the Aboriginal Diggers to Rest. Rod Plant, Chairperson of the Kokoda Aboriginal Servicemen’s Campaign, with Liz Rechniewski.

A report on the campaign that enabled the culturally appropriate burial rites to be performed in PNG to bring to rest the estranged spirits of the aboriginal diggers who died and were buried during the Kokoda campaign.

Full programme can be viewed at : http://sydney.edu.au/arts/publications/JOSA/AsiaPacificWarPart2.htm