From Bombay to the Western Front
This film from the AHRC was originally made to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in the First World War. The battle was a joint offensive by the British Expeditionary Force and the Indian Corps, which saw the allies suffer more than 12,000 causalities while advancing 1,200 yards.
The great loss of lives is marked in the public consciousness and upon the landscape by row-upon-row of white crosses which mark the French countryside. But now Dr Santanu Das, who teaches at the English department at Kings College London and is an expert in the culture and literature of the First World War, is arguing 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.
The project sees Dr Das partnering with Imperial War Museum, London, In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, and the Museum of European Culture, Berlin. In this film we see how Dr Das has been scouring 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.
The project sees Dr Das 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.
If you would like to read more about the range of projects funded by the AHRC on World War One, including projects exploring the contribution of Indian and other non-European countries to the war effort, please go to our commemorative publication 'Beyond the Trenches' (PDF, 16.9MB), or write to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a print copy.
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