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Focusing on political speech, commemorative ceremonies, and various cultural media (especially historiography, memorials and films), this article explores the discursive construction within American culture of D-Day – the Allied invasion of France in June 1944 – as “crusade”, that is, as an example of a righteous and redemptive mission undertaken in the name of God in order to deliver the oppressed peoples of Europe from the darkness and evil of Nazi rule. The article traces the origins of this rhetorical framing during the war itself, before shifting to examine its fortunes, lines and limits through to the end of the twentieth century. The article furthers our understanding of exactly how D-Day has been represented in American culture, and it teases out what might be termed a chronology of cultural traction. In doing so, it identifies those moments in which the linkage between D-Day and “crusading” has been firmly expressed as well as those other moments in which this linkage became rather more subterranean and subsumed, often remaining detectable only via inference or through careful attention to some of the images, ideas and narrative themes deployed in speech and ceremony.

In: International Journal of Military History and Historiography
In: War and Memorials
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This article examines how a post-1918 Edwardian commemorative aesthetic focused on the “English Garden” was deployed in the later twentieth century as a means to establish an “informal” Empire of memory. The result is an architectural irony and a landscape at odds with the moment that made it: the post-1945 cemeteries of the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) expanded the now defunct Empire’s commemorative possessions just as the actual deeds to land were surrendered. The one exception to this story of contemporaneous political withdrawal and commemorative appropriation nonetheless proves the broader point. For after the bloody imperial war fought in the South Atlantic in 1982 the Commission, at the behest of the British government, built its first and last post-1945 overseas war cemetery. And just as had been the case sixty years earlier, the form and style of this cemetery ensured it became the last outpost of an Edwardian Empire of memory.

In: International Journal of Military History and Historiography
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Abstract

This article examines how the British Falklands veteran was depicted in three late 1980s films: Resurrected (1989), Tumbledown(1988) and For Queen and Country (1989). Like many contemporaneous depictions of American Vietnam veterans, all three productions explore the difficult homecoming of the “returning soldier”, paying close attention to questions of health, well-being, national identity, class and race. To this extent, all three films “use” the figure of the veteran for pointed social and political commentary, with the mores and values of 1980s Britain the subject of engaged critique: from unemployment and the collapse of class solidarity, to the pettiness of government bureaucracy, to the racism of the State and its agents. In doing so, 1980s era depictions of the Falklands veteran established a powerful template which continues to shape and inform perceptions of the “stigmatized veteran” in contemporary British culture.

In: International Journal of Military History and Historiography
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Abstract

Focusing on two speeches by Ukrainian President Zelensky (as well as related activities) this article examines the recent diplomatic “use” in the on-going Russo-Ukraine War of World War II memory. It suggests that the Ukrainian government has skilfully—and very deliberately—deployed historical memory in diplomacy focused on both the United States and United Kingdom, and it suggests that part of the success of such endeavours lies in two connected factors. The first concerns the privileged position of World War II in Anglo-American culture; and the second is centred on the personalities of the current US and UK leaders, one of whom (Boris Johnson) has a well-known affection for Churchill, and the other of whom (Joe Biden) has been keen to assume the mantle of Franklin Roosevelt. With this audience, President Zelensky’s decision to invoke World War II memory is both savvy and clearly effective.

Free access
In: Journal of Applied History

Abstract

The rock shelter Mafusing 1 was excavated in 2011 as part of the Matatiele Archaeology and Rock Art or MARA research programme initiated in the same year. This programme endeavours to redress the much-neglected history of this region of South Africa, which until 1994 formed part of the wider ‘Transkei’ apartheid homeland. Derricourt’s 1977 Prehistoric Man in the Ciskei and Transkei constituted the last archaeological survey in this area. However, the coverage for the Matatiele region was limited, and relied largely on van Riet Lowe’s site list of the 1930s. Thus far, the MARA programme has documented more than 200 rock art sites in systematic survey and has excavated two shelters – Mafusing 1 (MAF 1) and Gladstone 1 (forthcoming). Here we present analyses of the excavated material from the MAF 1 site, which illustrates the archaeological component of the wider historical and heritage-related programme focus. Our main findings at MAF 1 to date include a continuous, well stratified cultural sequence dating from the middle Holocene up to 2400 cal. BP. Ages obtained from these deposits are suggestive of hunter-gatherer occupation pulses at MAF 1, with possible abandonment of the site over the course of two millennia in the middle Holocene. After a major roof collapse altered the morphology of the shelter, there was a significant change in the character of occupation at MAF 1, reflected in both the artefact assemblage composition and the construction of a rectilinear structure within the shelter sometime after 2400 cal. BP. The presence of a lithic artefact assemblage from this latter phase of occupation at MAF 1 confirms the continued use of the site by hunter-gatherers, while the presence of pottery and in particular the construction of a putative rectilinear dwelling and associated animal enclosure points to occupation of the shelter by agropastoralists. Rock art evidence shows distinct phases, the latter of which may point to religious practices involving rain-serpents and rainmaking possibly performed, in part, for an African farmer audience. This brings into focus a central aim of the MARA programme: to research the archaeology of contact between hunter-gatherer and agropastoralist groups.

In: Journal of African Archaeology
The Age of Nationalism and the Great War
War Memorials were an important element of nation building, for the invention of traditions, and the establishment of historical traditions. Especially nationalist remembrance in the late 19th century and the memory of the First World War stimulated a memorial boom in the period which the present book is focusing on.
The remembrance of war is nothing particularly new in history, since victories in decisive battles had been of interest since ancient times. However, the age of nationalism and the First World War triggered a new level of war remembrance that was expressed in countless memorials all over the world. The present volume presents the research of international specialists from different disciplines within the Humanities, whose research is dealing with the role of war memorials for the remembrance of conflicts like the First World War and their perceptions within the analyzed societies. It will be shown how memorials – in several different chronological and geographical contexts – were used to remember the dead, remind the survivors, and warn the descendants.