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.

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

 

The Politics of the Past on radio

Dr. Ben Wellings (ANU) and Romain Fathi, PhD candidate (UQ) interviewed by ABC radio in Canberra on April 24th 2012.

ABC Radio Ben and Romain

Dr. Ben Wellings presents the symposium and its goals while Romain Fathi discusses the involvement of Australians in commemorations at Villers-Bretonneux, where the AIF fought during the Great War.

The Politics of Great War Commemoration

Dr Ben Wellings (ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences) discusses issues of national commemoration, celebration and identity with Professor Laurence van Ypersele, Department of History, Catholic University of Louvain; Dr Matthew Graves (Aix-Marseille University) Research Fellow at the Australian Prime Ministers Centre, and Professor Jim MacAuley, Co-director of the Academy for British and Irish Studies (University of Huddersfield). This round table was held at the Australian National University, 27 April 2012.