‘We’re here because we’re here’: Participatory art and the mobilisation of First World War memory in post-Brexit Britain

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Foregrounding questions of belonging and national identity this chapter examines the role of the arts in constructing cultural imaginaries or imaginings? of the First World War that aimed to function as unifying acts in an increasingly divided Britain. By unpicking or unpacking? the way these seemingly inclusive events obscure difficult histories associated with Britain’s Empire and mask a divided present, this chapter demonstrates how cultural memory is mobilised to act as a vehicle for protest and critique of contemporary political events. Through a focus on a national mass-participatory commemorative artwork commissioned to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, We’re here because we’re here, this chapter examines the emotive power of the dominant cultural imaginary of the First World War soldier just days after Britain voted narrowly to leave the European Union in 2016.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfter the Armistice
Subtitle of host publicationEmpire, Endgame and Aftermath
EditorsMichael J. K. Walsh, Andrekos Varnava
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter14
ISBN (Electronic)9780367487553
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2021

Keywords

  • First World War
  • Commemoration
  • Empire
  • Participatory Art
  • Soldier
  • Cultural Policy
  • Centenary
  • war memorial
  • Brexit
  • European Union referendum
  • National identity
  • social cohesion
  • cultural memory

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