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Title: The material culture of remembrance and identity
Author: Smyth, Hanna Mariel Gwendolyn
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 2416
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis examines the relationship between material culture, war memory, and identity for South Africa, India, Canada, and Australia in the First World War's aftermath 1918-1938. Their material culture of commemoration on the battlefields fell under the Imperial War Graves Commission's remit; this complicated the decision-making processes for these sites, and caused them to serve as stages upon which relationships between national, imperial, collective, and individual identities were negotiated and performed in stone. Using five memorials in France and Belgium as case studies and also incorporating cemeteries, this thesis is a transnational, comparative, and interdisciplinary work. It advances new evidence for the spatial and conceptual relationships that existed between landscape, memorial, cemetery, the dead, and the living in imperial remembrance contexts, and uses representative engagements - objects, events, and decisions - to demonstrate how the articulation of identities was embedded in and navigated through them. The chapters interrogate the relationships between place, object, people, and distance, through the lens of absence and presence. They argue that links between landscape, material culture, and the dead created reciprocally conferred meanings; that memorials and cemeteries for India and the Dominions were objects with agency; and that connection across distance was crucial in how these places functioned as sites of identity. The material culture of remembrance is increasingly at the heart of First World War memory; as living memory has faded, it is the tangible remains - artefacts, memorials, and cemeteries - that we ask to tell us stories about our countries, our predecessors, and ourselves. Today, their contemporary relevance is prominently recognised in the public consciousness and media. It is critical that we have an understanding of these sites' significance to the people who derived meaning from them at the time of their creation.
Supervisor: Gregory, Adrian ; Atkinson, Jeanette Sponsor: University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: World War (1914-1918)