This one-day conference is inspired by the relationship between the two significant commemorative events of 2014; the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 and the D-Day landings of June 1944. Both dates serve as important markers in the history and memory of Britain and Europe and their coincidence provides an intriguing context to examine issues of culture, politics and power within the activities of remembrance in wider society. Despite the consequence attached to these two dates, with the limitations of time and finances placed on institutions, the ever-shifting political interest in commemoration and the weariness of a public saturated with memory, there is a fear that these significant moments will be set against one another, rather than placed in contrast and comparison.
This conference will address these concerns but it will also directly consider why certain events are accorded significance and value over others and how that might shape values, habits and ideals. For example, with the advent of the First World War anniversaries, will the remembrance of the Second World War diminish or perhaps be relegated to the periphery? In these circumstances, what effect will this have on politics, culture and society in contemporary Britain and Europe?
The concept of ‘simultaneous anniversaries’ is forwarded to describe this potentially highly productive arena for research, as we seek to evaluate these two events and the possible ways in which new practices of memory may alter or challenge established structures of commemoration. The conference also proposes to be a starting point for discussion of comparable anniversary clashes, collisions and alignments, including the First World War and the 1916 Easter Uprising; the anniversaries of 1917 as a year of war and revolution; as well as other less well known commemorative intersections, overlaps and clashes.
Call for Papers
Abstracts of 250 words are sought from researchers who will assess the ways in which simultaneous but different ‘memory events’ can be examined together. Contributors might consider the relationship between the remembrance of 1914 and 1944 in particular locales or contexts, the experience of participants, the representation of these events for national and regional cultures and the role of memory in those societies who honour and maintain the significance of these moments in public life. Contributors might also want to broaden out their work to explore comparable multi-dimensional, competing or aligning anniversaries and commemorations. All researchers with an approach from the humanities disciplines are encouraged to submit. It is envisaged that papers delivered at the conference could form part of a future edited volume or a special edition of a peer-reviewed journal. Abstracts should be in broad agreement with the conference themes:
The practices of memory
The role of anniversaries
The challenge of competing memories
Local and regional connections and/or tensions with national commemorations
Examples of Multi-Dimensional memory or clashing commemorations
Ideology and the making of historical memory
Post-colonial sidelights on national memory/forgetting
Political Theorization of competing claims to historical events
Politics and identity within Britain and Europe
The lessons of sociological or psychoanalytical approaches to collective memory for scenarios such as 1914/1944
Simultaneous commemoration of different samples of history
The deadline for abstracts is January 31 2014 and the authors of successful proposals will be notified in early March.
Please send abstracts to Ross Wilson
If you have any questions or would like to discuss the conference, its aims and objectives, please contact the conference organisers: