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    Negotiating hierarchy and memory: African and Caribbean troops from former British colonies in London's imperial spaces

    Siblon, John (2016) Negotiating hierarchy and memory: African and Caribbean troops from former British colonies in London's imperial spaces. The London Journal 41 (3), pp. 299-312. ISSN 0305-8034.

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    The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War has refocused the attention of historians not just on the processes that led to war but also on the multitude of ethnicities who participated in the conflict. This coverage reflects not just the ‘global turn’ in the historiography of the war but also an acknowledgement that the contribution of African, Caribbean and Asian servicemen has not received sufficient attention in previous studies. Organizers of official commemorations of the war have taken great care to make ceremonials more inclusive. Despite the renewed efforts of historians and politicians, the memory of the service of Black troops from former British colonies remains marginalized, in particular, those from Africa and the Caribbean. In this article, using mostly government archives, I argue that the origins of present day marginalization lie in the decisions made by politicians, military and colonial officials charged with the cultural remembrance and commemoration of African and Caribbean servicemen in the aftermath of the war. I will argue that, in the landscape of the symbolic centre of the former imperial metropole, officials deliberately constructed a memory of the war as a ‘white man's war’, fought with the assistance of loyal Asians, with the service of Africans and Caribbeans expressly excluded. This cultural construction of whiteness presents an obstacle in the present day to a full understanding of the extent of Black colonial participation in the war.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Black soldiers, Commemoration, Colonial, Whiteness, Space, Imperial, Hierarchy, Race, First World War, London
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2017 14:28
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:30


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