"The colonial experience - it's this huge, teeming and absolutely fascinating underworld which is there just to come out into the open, and we are just at the tip of the iceberg..."
Santanu Das, King's College London
"We hope that Whose Remembrance? will serve as a catalyst for further discussion - particularly with the First World War centenary providing opportunities for funding for community projects and increasing attention on the global nature of that conflict."
Suzanne Bardgett, IWM Head of Research and Academic Partnerships
Whose Remembrance? was IWM’s first AHRC-supported research project. It sought to investigate the state of research into the experiences of the peoples of Britain's former empire in the two world wars, and the understanding and availability of this research to audiences and communities today. The project was carried out by Imperial War Museums in consultation with an advisory group of academics and specialists. Researchers worked on the production of three databases: published works produced by academics and community historians over the last thirty years, exhibitions and resources developed by museums and cultural organisations, and cultural outputs such as films, documentaries, novels and plays. Two workshops were held at IWM London, the first with historians and the second with museum professionals and community workers and representatives. The team also included three specialist researchers who assessed the accessibility and usefulness of IWM's collections for understanding and interpreting historical topics which they chose. A specially commissioned film summarises the study's findings.
The story of the experiences of the peoples of the British Empire during the two world wars is rich territory and deserves to be more intensively pursued and permanently included in mainstream narratives. Cultural organisations need to forge closer links with communities and with their 'brokers' in order to make these wartime narratives more representative of and relevant to the diverse communities they serve. The dissemination of these histories to the wider British public has the potential to enrich everyone's understanding of war and its effects on society.
The Whose Remembrance? film highlights the efforts which historians, museum professionals and community workers are making to discover how the peoples of the former British Empire were affected by the two World Wars. The film showcases the findings of the project and serves to act as a discussion prompt and catalyst for future research into this theme.