Contested Objects breaks new ground in the interdisciplinary study of material culture. Its focus is on the rich and varied legacy of objects from the First World War as the global conflict that defined the twentieth century. From the iconic German steel helmet to practice trenches on Salisbury Plain, and from the ‘Dazzle Ship’ phenomenon through medal-wearing, diary-writing, trophy collecting, the market in war souvenirs and the evocative reworking of European objects by African soldiers, this book presents a dazzling array of hitherto unseen worlds of the Great War.
The innovative and multidisciplinary approach adopted here follows the lead established by Nicholas J. Saunders’ Matters of Conflict (Routledge 2004), and extends its geographical coverage to embrace a truly international perspective. Australia, Africa, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium and Britain are all represented by a cross-disciplinary group of scholars working in archaeology, anthropology, cultural history, art history, museology, and cultural heritage. The result is a volume that resonates with richly documented and theoretically informed case studies that illustrate how the experiences of war can be embodied in and represented by an endless variety of artefacts, whose ‘social lives’ have endured for almost a century and that continue to shape our perceptions of an increasingly dangerous world.
Introduction 1. ‘Just a Boyish Habit’…? British and Commonwealth War Trophies in the First World War Paul Cornish (Imperial War Museum) 2. Shaping Matter, Meaning and Mentalities: The German Steel Helmet from Artefact to Afterlife Fabio Gygi (University College London) 3. The Great War ‘Trench Club’: Typology, Use and Cultural Meaning Daniel Phillips (University College London) 4. The Journey Back: On the Nature of Donations to the In Flanders Fields Museum Dominiek Dendooven (In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Belgium) 5. ‘Brothers in Arms’ – Masonic Artefacts of the First World War and its Aftermath Mark Dennis (Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London) 6. Subversive Material: African Embodiments of Modern War Richard Waller (Bucknell University, USA) 7. Medals, Memory and Meaning: Symbolism and Cultural Significance of Great War Medals Matthew Richardson (Manx National Heritage) 8. Distinguishing the Uniform: British Military Heraldry and Group Identity Alan Jeffreys (Imperial War Museum) 9. The Consumer Sphinx: From French Trench to Parisian Market Gulya Isyanova (University College London) 10. ‘The Returned Soldiers Bug’: Making the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne Catherine Moriarty (University of Brighton) 11. Exploring a Language of Grief in First World War Headstone Inscriptions Sonia Batten (University of Birmingham) 12. ‘P’raps I Shall See You…’: Recognition of Loved Ones in Non-fiction Film of the First World War Roger Smither (Imperial War Museum) 13. ‘A Few Broad Stripes’: Perception, Deception and the ‘Dazzle Ship’ Phenomenon of WWI Jonathan Black (Kingston University) 14. Message and Materiality in Mesopotamia, 1916–17: My Grandfather’s Diary, Social Commemoration and the Experience of War John Schofield (English Heritage) 15. Postcards from the Past: War, Landscape, and Place in Argonne, France Paola Filippucci (Cambridge University) 16. ‘Calculating the Future’: Panoramic Sketching, Reconnaissance Drawing and the Material Trace of War Paul Gough (University of the West of England) 17. Archaeology of the Great War: The Flemish Experience Marc Dewilde (Institute for Archaeological Heritage, Flanders, Belgium) and Nicholas J. Saunders (University College London) 18. ‘Slowly Our Ghosts Drag Home’: Human Remains from the Heidenkopf, Serre, Somme, France Martin Brown (MOD) 19. Great War Archaeology on the Glaciers of the Alps Marco Balbi (Societa Storica per La Guerra Bianca, Italy) 20. Training for Trench Warfare: The Archaeological Evidence from Salisbury Plain Graham Brown and David Field (English Heritage)