The BBC 'People’s War' Website, M. Keren & H. R. Herwig (eds.) War Memory and Popular Culture: Essays on Modes of Remembrance and Commemoration (McFarland, North Carolina, 2009)
This chapter is the first published output on an ongoing piece of research that I am conducting on the relationship between ‘new’ interactive media, in this case the internet, and the production of memory. It grew out of a research workshop I attended in 2007 on ‘The Popularization of War Memory’ at the University of Calgary in 2007. This workshop bought together a small number of researchers from across disciplines in the Humanities, working on memories of war in North America, Britain, Israel, Germany and Australia. I have since developed the ideas that are outlined here in a number of seminars and workshops given in Europe, North America and Australia and have forthcoming publications which build on this, looking at the ways that the Blitz is remembered on the website and the possibilities the internet offers to destabilize the public representation of Second World War memory.
This is the first published piece of work to analyse the memories that appear on the BBC ‘People’s War’ archive, a collection of approximately 47,000 memories, autobiographies, diary entries and photographs collected by the BBC in the mid 1990s. I approached the website as a cultural historian with a particular interest in cultural memory and in the gendered experience and memory of the Second World War in Britain, and analysed the memories which appear there as a form of ‘popular memory’, considering both the extent to which they challenged ‘dominant’ memories of the period, and ways in which they could be seen as gendered.