The wars of the past have not left the same imprint on collective memory. Wars of conquest or liberation have marked the history of the British Empire and its colonies in different ways. American foreign policy seems to be motivated by what is sometimes viewed as an imperialist vision which led the army into the quagmire of Vietnam and more recently into controversial involvement in the Gulf. Whether they end in victory or defeat, or are a source of patriotic pride or collective shame, wars are commemorated in museum exhibitions or through literature and the cinema in which the threads of ideological discourse and the expression of subjective experience are intertwined. From the upheavals of the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War to the Boer Wars in South Africa, from the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland to the carnage and devastation of the two World Wars, some conflicts seem to attract “duties of memory” while others are simply forgotten. Military interventions in the Falklands, in Bosnia, and more recently in the Gulf, in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in Libya have created a new kind of memory, the narrative constructed by television images. In the wake of the 100th anniversary of the Great War, when the links between memory and history are central to historiographical preoccupations, this international conference will encompass the representations of wars in the English-speaking world during the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
The mediatisation, performance, interpretation and rewriting of facts and events during and after wars will be central to our reflexions. We welcome diachronic, synchronic or comparative studies along with those questioning the process of memory and memorisation. Patriotic fervour, federating or demobilising discourses, resistance, conscientious objection, injury and trauma, propaganda and counter-propaganda contribute to the shaping of individual and collective memory and further the reconsideration of long-held truths in the light of new discoveries and with the benefit of hindsight.
There will be a dedicated workshop for the two World Wars.