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Title: Challenging captivity : British prisoners of war in Germany during the First World War
Author: Wilkinson, Oliver
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis investigates the experience of British servicemen captured by the Germans during the First World War. It draws on a range of primary sources including reports on the POW camps together with debrief statements, diaries, letters, magazines and testimony produced by British POWs. It also applies theoretical concepts offered by Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault, Anthony Giddens and Michel de Certeau as interpretive frameworks. The research is presented in two parts. The first explores the physical and psychological challenges that confronted the captured. It assesses the differences between Officer camps, Other Rank camps and working camps, considering the regulations governing each and the challenges - and opportunities for re-empowerment - each presented. The second section analyses the ways in which POWs responded, revealing a broad range of coping strategies as well as techniques adopted by certain categories of prisoners in response to specific challenges. By examining the POW experience the thesis makes an original and significant contribution to the history of the First World War. It places the POW experience in the context of masculinities in wartime, revealing how these were challenged and how they could be preserved. In addition, it links the prisoners' experiences to their precaptive military and civilian lives, exploring the uniqueness of the challenges they faced and the learnt adaptive strategies they possessed to respond. It also considers how prisoners physically and psychologically reconnected with their home worlds despite the dislocation caused by capture. In sum the thesis offers a new interpretation of captivity which moves away from escape views, conditioned by post-Second World War representations which have crystallised in the popular imagination. Its findings also offer broad insights into how power, authority and identity might function in other enclosed social institutions and in society generally.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available