20th Feb 2014 - 22nd Feb 2014
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Fields of craters within and without: A Material and Immaterial History of Chilean Nitrate and British Shells: Louise Purbrick.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War in July 1914, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, invite speakers for an international conference to be held in Singapore from 20-22 February 2014.
‘The foundation of empire is art and science. Remove them or degrade them, and the empire is no more. Empire follows art and not vice versa as Englishmen suppose.’ William Blake, ‘Annotations to Reynolds’ Discourses’ in Joshua Reynolds, Discourses on Art (Yale University Press, 1975), p. 285.
‘When the “Studies in Imperialism” series was founded more than twenty-years ago, emphasis was laid upon the conviction that “imperialism as a cultural phenomenon has as significant an effect on the dominant as on the subordinate societies”,’ Professor John M. MacKenzie, on the series description of ‘Studies in Imperialism’ for Manchester University Press.
In 1914 almost one quarter of the earth’s surface was British. When that same empire and its allies went to war in 1914 against the Central Powers, history’s first global conflict was inevitable. The statistics speak for themselves in terms of recruited soldiers and auxiliaries from the British Empire: 1,300,000 Indian, 500,000 Canadian, 300,000 Australian, 100,000 New Zealand; 80,000 South African; 15,000 West Indian and Cypriot. They came too, in smaller numbers, from places like Rhodesia, Tonga, the Falkland Islands, Ceylon and Kuwait.
It is the social and cultural reactions within these distant, often overlooked, societies now thrust into the mainstream of modern industrial conflict, which is the focus of this conference. The organisers are especially interested in papers which allow a decentralisation of socio-cultural analysis away from the more predictable metropolitan perspective (and away from the monolithic notion of empire) to focus instead on contrasts and complementarities of ideology throughout the geographical and ethnic extremes of both the ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ empire. From Singapore to Australia, Cyprus to Ireland, India to Jamaica, and around the rest of the British imperial world, further complexities and interlocking themes will be addressed, for example; how different strata and subsets of imperial society shaped and were shaped by the experience of total war; and how disparate societies and cultures – in all their manifestations and on their various ‘home fronts’ – shaped and were shaped by the war. As the thematic list below indicates, this conference will be of particular interest to those actively researching amongst other things: imperial and colonial history / theory, war and society, war and culture, art history, cultural studies, music history, photography, propaganda, education, pacifism, gender studies, class and race structures / relations, at the end of the pax Britannica.
The themes of the conference must relate to British colonial societies and culture of the Great War and might very well include (but not necessarily be restricted to) the following areas:-