Responding to war : peace activism, WWI literature, and remembrance
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This interdisciplinary thesis is based on six months of multi-sited fieldwork with the Machine Gun Corps Old Comrades’ Association (MGC/OCA) in the UK and Voices for Creative NonViolence (VCNV) in the UK and the US, and remote follow-up interviews (due to COVID-19 restrictions), as well as the analysis of a primary corpus of WWI literary texts (Under Fire: The Story of a Squad (1916) by Henri Barbusse; Undertones of War (1928) by Edmund Blunden; All Quiet on The Western Front (1929) by Erich Maria Remarque; Storm of Steel (1920) by Ernst Jünger; and Testament of Youth (1933) by Vera Brittain. Straddling the disciplines of Modern Languages and Social Anthropology this thesis proposes an interdisciplinary methodology through applying ‘abductive ethnography’ across both disciplines (Bacj 2012), drawing out the points of convergence at the same time as accounting for their specificities. Interacting with my interlocutors and my corpus of WWI texts through what Kermode (1988) calls the commentary on these canonical works, this thesis begins with ‘endings’ as a way of articulating different stories. Critically engaging with my own ‘multi-situated’ positionality (Sunder Rajan 2021), I allow the fieldwork to influence the literary analysis and my engagement with the texts to inform my fieldwork. The various narratives addressed in this thesis are brought together to explore and question what moves people to engage with war through remembrance and activism, and how these practices take shape. Drawing on various theoretical approaches, this uncovers the ways in which this research shows both remembrance and peace activism as engaging with the dead but nonetheless geared towards the future. I ultimately propose a notion of multi-sensorial (re)reading which leads to interpretation and action.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationalhttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Embargo Date: 2024-05-11
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Restricted until 11th May 2024
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