On Saturday 15th October 2016, the Centre for Hidden Histories in partnership with the Imperial War Museum, London held a public workshop on ‘Black People’s Involvement in the First World War’. Convened by Emeritus Professor David Killingray (Goldsmiths), who is a historian of the First World War in Africa and Dr Caroline Bressey (UCL), the workshop included papers from a range of academic experts and community activists. The day also featured contributions from Suzanne Bardgett (Head of Research and Academic Partnerships, IWM) and Lucy Footer (First World War Centenary and Anniversaries Advisor, Heritage Lottery Fund). It attracted approximately fifty audience members who actively participated in the workshop’s question and answer sessions. Copies of the IWM’s AHRC-supported Whose Remembrance? film and guide: ‘Researching the British Empire in the First World War’ was made available to participants (click here for a copy). More resources can be found on the IWM’s Whose Remembrance? webpages and on the First World War Centenary website.
On 19th September 2016, academic and community participants in research projects funded by the Centre for Hidden Histories convened for a ‘Shared Experience Workshop’ at Derby Riverside Centre. The day was organised by Impact Fellow, Dr Larissa Allwork, Community Liaison Officer, Mike Noble and Principle Investigator on the Centre for Hidden Histories project, Professor John Beckett. Participants presented their findings and discussed their experiences of working as part of an AHRC Connected Communities First World War Engagement Centre. The specific focus of the day was the ‘impact’ of their projects or what the AHRC defines as, “…the ‘influence’ of research or its ‘effect on’ an individual, a community, the development of policy, or the creation of a new product or service. It relates to the effects of research on our economic, social and cultural lives.” Academic participants included Professor Jane Chapman (University of Lincoln), Professor Kurt Barling (Middlesex University), Professor Panikos Paniyi (Leicester DeMontfort University), Dr Tim Grady (University of Chester), Professor Paul Elliott (University of Derby) and Dr David Amos. Community group leaders represented included Judith Garfield MBE (Eastside Community Heritage), Alison Jones (Knockaloe & Patrick Visitor Centre), Anne Marie Curtis (St. Werburgh’s Great War Study Group) and David Stowe (‘In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time’ project).
The day revealed the wide range of heritage, education and public engagement impacts that Centre for Hidden Histories research development fund projects have encouraged across the UK. These have particularly been in relation to: (1) raising awareness of World War I ‘hidden histories’ such as the experiences of Britain’s diaspora populations and the contribution of members of its colonies to the war effort; (2) the experiences of German and Austrian immigrants living in the UK and the British government’s internment of so-called ‘enemy aliens’ during the First World War; (3) the experiences of refugees during the 1914-1918 conflict.
To read the full report on the impact of Centre for Hidden Histories projects, please click on this link: Shared Experience Workshop and Impact of CHH Research Projects Report
On 3rd October 2016, Broadway Cinema, Nottingham in partnership with the Centre for Hidden Histories organised a free public screening of Lewis Milestone’s Oscar winning classic, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). Adapted from the novel by German First World War veteran Erich Maria Remarque, the film’s anti-war message and scenes of violence were controversial in the 1930s, leading the movie to be banned in Austria, Yugoslavia, Italy, Bulgaria and New Zealand. The film’s pacifist message also led to its condemnation by the Nazis and prohibition from cinemas in the Third Reich, while the movie’s association of French women with moral licentiousness led to its removal from French cinemas.
The screening at Broadway to thirty members of the public was accompanied by a question and answer session afterwards with University of Nottingham academics, Professor John Beckett, Professor Mike Heffernan and Professor Nigel Hunt. Topics discussed included the representation of soldiers in the film in relation to trauma, conceptions of masculinity and the experiences of soldiers fighting in conflicts since 1918. There was also discussion of the historical strengths and limitations of the film, as well as the role that films such as ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ have played in constructing contemporary public understandings of the First World War.
Audience responses included:
“The film and especially the Q&A afterwards were very informative and thought provoking. It has certainly given me a more rounded and comprehensive take on the war and its impact on everyone around at the time.” (Chris Henderson, Age 39)
“It was a very important film that should be shown again. The Q&A session afterwards was most interesting and brought out some of the issues in the film which I might have otherwise missed.” (Martin Foulds, Age 63)
“Very interesting and informative. Particularly the range of expertise of the speakers.” (Anonymous respondent).
On the afternoon of 25th August 2016, Mike Noble (Community Liaison Officer) and I met with community partners of the Centre for Hidden Histories at Edin’s Cafe, Broad Street, Nottingham. This session was convened to discuss the various ways in which being a part of projects associated with the AHRC’s First World War Engagement Centres had impacted on participants individual lives, organisations and communities. In our discussion we were joined by Professor Paul Elliott (The University of Derby), community artists, Jenny Anthony and Maureen Elliott from Spiral Arts and participant in Spiral Arts projects, Hazel Thompson. Dr Irfan Malik (Friends of Dulmial Society), Gertie Whitfield (Whitworks Adventures in Theatre) and Pauline Woodhouse and Marion Caunt from the Radcliffe on Trent and the First World War project were also present.