project . 2018 - 2021 . Closed

Mediating militarism: Chronicalling 100 years of British 'Military Victimhood' from print to digital, 1918-2018

UK Research and Innovation
Funder: UK Research and InnovationProject code: 2107207
Funded under: ESRC
Status: Closed
30 Sep 2018 (Started) 31 Dec 2021 (Ended)

Mediating Militarism: Chronicling 100 Years of Military Victimhood from Print to Digital, 1918-2018 aims to assess militarism and its role in the commemoration of the British war dead since the end of the First World War. 2018 marks the centenary of the cessation of the First World War and provides a framework through which this research project will develop. The project will take advantage of unique access to print and digital materials captured and held by the British Library in order to chronicle the changing public portrayal of the British war dead from the print to the digital age, evaluating the role this portrayal plays in the mediation of militarism in the process. No one definitive example of militarism exists throughout history, as each manifestation of the concept varies in one way or another. All examples may be intrinsically linked to ideals such as the glorification of war-like thinking, but in diametrically opposed socio-political environments these realisations of militarism can take forms often unrecognisable to one another. From this basis, militarism manifests itself in a variety of ways that depend heavily on contemporary politics, alongside both military and social developments. In the case of Britain, national narratives surrounding the First World War have played a key role in the development of the nation's own form of militarism. The nature of Britain's involvement in the First World War meant that following the Armistice of 11th November 1918, a multitude of commemorative practices were developed in order to facilitate the mourning of an entire nation. British soldiers who had died abroad were not repatriated following the war meaning tangible sites of mourning were created as focal points of British remembrance. Through the development of a unique language and symbology surrounding the commemoration of the war dead these commemorative practices continue into the present day and have saturated British attitudes to the military and the waging of war. This research project will first chronicle this past century of representations of what is referred to as 'military victimhood' through both print and digital resources curated by the British Library. These cultural artefacts will then be interrogated so as to explore how representations of this 'military victimhood' have potentially acted as mediators of militarism in British society. Through the examination of these resources methodological practices will be developed in relation to working with mixed collections, such as the British Library's newspaper collections and the UK Web Archive, and will feed into curatorial work on the capture, storage and navigation of such resources. Finally, it is hoped that these processes will aid the British Library in better understanding the value, challenges and limitations of their print and digital collections, and how their future use can be enhanced for researchers in the social sciences.

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