On Tuesday evening, I attended a commemorative event at the Imperial War Museum North. It had been organised to reflect on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, which was the first major offensive to involve the British Indian Army.
Among the speakers at the event was Dr Santanu Das, of the English department at Kings College London. Dr Das, who is an expert in the culture and literature of the First World War, made the argument that while the First World War is often defined as the ‘clash of empires’, it could equally be defined as a watershed event in the history of cultural encounters in Europe.
Dr Das has been leading an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers and a number of cultural institutions across Europe to illuminate and examine this question during the centennial years of the war’s commemoration.
In this film we see how Dr Das has partnered with Imperial War Museum, London, In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, and the Museum of European Culture, Berlin to scour their (and many other) vast archives for letters, photographs, literary texts, sketches, artefacts, newspapers, and audio recordings. We see how all these sources are being brought together to be examined side-by-side, in order to piece together a fuller picture of the experience of the Indian troops and labourers, and the Europeans who they came into contact with.
One of our main aims at the Centre for Hidden Histories is to support local groups and societies keen to commemorate the role of their communities in the First World War.
With that in mind, we’re very pleased to invite applications to our Community Challenge Fund. This scheme offers grants of up to £500 for community group activities that investigate and commemorate the legacies of the years 1914-19.
We are particularly keen to offer support to projects that focus on histories that fall outside of the traditional image of the Western Front. These histories may include, but are not limited to, themes of migration and displacement, the experience of ‘others’ from countries and regions within Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, and the impact and subsequent legacies of the war on diverse communities within Britain and the impact on remembrance and commemoration, identity and faith.
The funds will enable community groups to gain access to research and/or technical facilities and expertise in order to develop projects or to support an event or visit in support of their research.
Challenge Funds are not limited in any particular way, but applicants are encouraged to demonstrate the research they are aiming to achieve. Funded activities could include:
Support to undertake a specific piece of research, such as funding travel to an archive
Funding for training in research or presentation skills
Access to research facilities and research support
This is an open call and there is no formal closing date for applications. However, projects must be completed by 31st December 2016 to meet the terms of the grant.
At the recent Connected Communities Festival in Cardiff, Michael Noble was asked to explain how the Centre for Hidden Histories and the other Engagement Centres were contributing to the process of commemoration.