Marginalised Histories of the Second World War

Date: Wednesday 11th April 2018

A one-day workshop hosted at King’s College, London as part of the AHRC-funded Teaching and Learning War Research Network to explore the latest research into the history, memory and representation of the Second World War (including the Holocaust) from an international comparative perspective. The event will conclude with a publicly accessible roundtable reflecting on public engagement lessons and ‘hidden histories’ as we move from the centenary of the First World War to the major anniversaries of the Second World War.

Panellists include international curriculum advisors as well as representatives from historical research, the museum sector, heritage bodies, popular history publishing, and major television/radio networks. The roundtable will be chaired by Helen Weinstein, Creative Director of History Works.

Call for papers:

The recently published British Future ‘A Centenary Shared’ report (November 2016) suggests that, during the period 2013 to 2016, the British public’s understanding of lesser known aspects of the First World War has expanded ‘globally’ taking into account the contribution made by soldiers from Australia, Canada and India and pushing understanding of the war beyond commonly held ideas of white British soldiers on the Western Front. This workshop seeks to lay foundations to consider whether the same is possible for the approaching major anniversaries of the Second World War.

This workshop seeks to bring together researchers working on topics related to the history, memory and representation of the Second World War (including the Holocaust) that go beyond well-worn Euro-centric narratives and/or researchers whose work casts light on lesser known aspects of the experiences themselves. The term ‘marginalised’ is defined broadly with reason in order to encompass the latest research dedicated to those narratives of the Second World War and the Holocaust that are usually relegated to the side notes or chapters of broader histories and/or that are not currently central to commemoration in the UK and the Commonwealth. How do these experiences relate to the imperial and global nature of the conflict? To what extent are these narratives absent from popular accounts that tell the history of the war? What narratives are marginalised and why? How does ‘peripheralisation’ compare across different national settings? Where are these narratives marginalised (e.g. in the academe, classroom, wider society?) What memory politics contributes to marginalisation? How might we close the gap between academic research into these areas and public engagement activities here in the UK and worldwide?

While not exhaustive, this list suggests topics contributions might address:

  • Indigenous and ethnic minority service in the Second World War e.g. Maori participation in the New Zealand Army; tribal groups on the Burma-India border
  • Research relating to the war in South Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa
  • Gender, sexuality and violence in the Second World War
  • Marginalised civilian groups in the UK e.g. Irish immigrants, traveller communities,
  • juvenile delinquents, the disabled, the elderly
  • Marginalised ‘male’ experiences such as ground crew, logisticians and male civilians
  • Marginalised narratives of death, grief and bereavement
  • Technological experimentation e.g. gas mask testing in India
  • Cultural histories of Holocaust violence e.g. gendered experiences of violence; violence against children; interactions between Nazi anti-Jewish violence and other forms of ethnic violence; perpetrators and their relationship to intimate violence
  • Politicisation and utilisation of marginalised memories e.g. in regards to identity politics

While we recognise that it will not be possible to do full justice to all marginalised voices in a one-day event, the organisers felt it to be important to include new and marginalised perspectives on all aspects of and related to the Second World War, including the Holocaust as well as events such as the Bengal Famine.

The event will be structured around presentations of no more than 20 minutes, ensuring maximum time for Q&A.

General queries and abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent to Catriona Pennell (C.L.Pennell@exeter.ac.uk) by 30 November 2017. Please include a brief biography outlining your research expertise as well as your name, organisation/institution and contact email.

While the workshop is free to attend for all, the AHRC is generously providing up to fifteen travel bursaries on a sliding scale (outside Europe £500 p.p. max. 3; Europe £350 p.p. max. 4; and within UK but outside Greater London area £100 p.p. max. 8) to ensure geographical spread of expertise. Please indicate on your abstract/in your email whether you would like to be considered for the bursary. Priority will be given to PGRs and ECRs.