Blog: Revisiting the 1917 Stockholm Peace Conference: Indian Nationalism, International Socialism, and Anti-Imperialism

A recent blog by Ole Birk Laursen on the University of Exeter’s Global and Imperial Forum discusses how the centenaries of the Russian revolutions (1917) and the end of the First World War (1918), are connected through the abandoned Stockholm Peace Conference and, given their anti-imperialist narratives, how they impacted the colonial world. Despite the attendance of Indians, Egyptians, Persians and Turks in Stockholm, the scant historical inquiries into this might-have-been moment tend to neglect how such anti-imperial ambitions were tied to world peace.

Ole Birk Laursen (Research Affiliate, the Open University) is a historian of Black and South Asian people in Britain and Europe with a particular focus anti-imperialism and anarchism. In addition to book chapters and journal articles on Indian nationalism, his book The Indian Revolutionary Movement in Europe, 1905-1918 is forthcoming with Liverpool University Press (2019).

Book review: Lawrence of Arabia’s War: The Arabs, the British and the Remaking of the Middle East in WW1, by Neil Faulkner.

The story of the young war hero has historically captivated Western readers for decades. However, in the recent past, there have been calls to engage more deeply with the lesser-known histories and broader participants in the First World War. In this context, Sneha Reddy argues that Faulkner’s book goes in the other direction and shifts the spotlight back to Lawrence by making him the central focus of his study. Nonetheless, she adds, for a book that is a result of a ten-year endeavour, ending in 2014, to study modern conflict archaeology as part of the Great Arab Revolt Project, it is uniquely placed.

Author: Sneha Reddy is a PhD student at the School of International Relations in the University of St Andrews. Her research focuses on French North African and British Indian soldiers in the First World War in the Middle East.

Review on publisher’s site here
Author’s e-print link
Article DOI

WW1 Centenary blog: Tagore in the time of war 1913-1919, by Sneha Reddy

Ideas and influence of poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore during the first world war
Marking 100 years of Tagore’s lectures, delivered in Japan and USA, published in 1917 under the title ‘Nationalism’

‘Although Tagore is best known for his poetry, he was also an accomplished novelist, artist, dramatist, essayist and made prolific music compositions. His work gained international prominence just as the winds of nationalism and mutual distrust swept across the European continent and morphed into a conflict in 1914. The poet saw the oncoming war as an assault on humanity and explored its political and cultural consequences through his writings. European intellectuals and literary figures who witnessed the war’s brutality at their shores sought ‘insights coming from elsewhere’ and for many, Tagore’s voice ‘fit the need splendidly’ (Sen 2011).’

Full article here.

Sneha Reddy is a first-year PhD student at the School of International Relations in the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland. Her research focuses on French North African and British Indian soldiers in the First World War in the Middle East. She is on twitter @sneha_tumu

Commonwealth War Graves Commission intern programme

2017 CWGC Centenary Interns

Want to take part in our paid internship in France & Belgium next summer?

The CWGC Centenary Interns will join the Commission for four months, based in France and Belgium, to welcome visitors to some of the CWGC’s most well-known sites. These will include the CWGC Tyne Cot Cemetery near Ieper (Ypres), which will be the focus of the UK Government commemorations of the Centenary of Passchendaele: Third Battle of Ypres in July 2017.

Responses must be received by 10pm on Friday 20/01/17 and completed registration forms by 10pm on Friday 27/01/17.

For further information and to register your interest, see here.

New article: ‘Frederick Coates: First World War Facial Architect’

‘Frederick Coates: First World War Facial Architect’ by Dr. Marjorie Gehrhardt and Dr Suzanne Steele has just been published online in the Journal of War & Culture Studies. It will appear in print in January 2017.

The role of artists in the First World War is often understood only in terms of their artistic response to the conflict in paint, music, or sculpture. In fact, artists’ contributions were also engaged at an applied level, for example in the areas of propaganda, camouflage, and map-making. Beyond this, a small number participated in repairing the damage caused by the conflict. Frederick Coates, a British-born sculptor who emigrated to Canada in 1913, enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and worked alongside surgeons and other artists to try and help give new features to facially injured combatants. Drawing upon unpublished photographs and scrapbooks, this article investigates Coates’s war experience and his contribution to the reconstruction of broken faces. Through a close examination of this ‘facial architect’, as Coates was called, this article gives an insight into the work performed in maxillofacial hospitals and underlines the importance of cross-national, multi-disciplinary collaboration.

The authors hope that the article will promote a far greater understanding of the artist’s engagement with the war effort beyond camouflage, map making, and other more conventional war artist roles, and will broaden the field from one that, until this research, has primarily focussed on Harold Gillies, Tonks, and Derwent Wood et al. The research has revealed networks of collaboration, influence, and convergence within the artistic and surgical operations during the Great War.

Remembering a Democratic Legacy of the Great War in Interwar India

A blog by Stephen Legg, Professor of Historical Geography, University of Nottingham, has been published on the Imperial and Global Forum. The blog is based upon his article, ‘Dyarchy’, which was recently published in the journal Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

In 2019, India will embark upon a uniquely postcolonial set of centenaries. During the Great War the Defence of India Act (1915) had given the Government of India exceptional powers to silence dissent and crush any nascent “terrorist” or “revolutionary” movement. So effective had the powers proven, against both radical and moderate nationalists, that there were many within the colonial state who sought their extension into peace time. The “Rowlatt” (Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes) Act of 1919 attempted this, and the resistance against the act was led by the ex-lawyer and future-Mahatma, Mr MK Gandhi. The centenary of the Rowlatt “Satyagraha” (the name for Gandhi’s non-violent, political “truth-force”, protest movement) will doubtless be commemorated by the Congress party and many others in India.

Full blog here.

Blog: RHS lecture by Dr Adrian Gregory

On Wednesday 26 October 2016, 17:30 – 19:00, Dr Adrian Gregory gave a lecture to the Royal Historical Society, in the Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, Michael Sadler Building, University of Leeds.

Globalizing and Localizing the Great War: A tale of four cities

Rejecting the traditional focus on national histories, this lecture tells the story of the First World War in terms of interconnected global histories, explored through a series of towns and cities. Oxford in the UK, Halifax in Nova Scotia, Jerusalem in Palestine and Verdun in Eastern France illustrate how the world and the war interacted in flows of materials, people, ideas and images.

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