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Nation, Memory and Great War Commemoration

Mobilizing the Past in Europe, Australia and New Zealand


Edited By Shanti Sumartojo and Ben Wellings

The Great War continues to play a prominent role in contemporary consciousness. With commemorative activities involving seventy-two countries, its centenary is a titanic undertaking: not only ‘the centenary to end all centenaries’ but the first truly global period of remembrance.
In this innovative volume, the authors examine First World War commemoration in an international, multidisciplinary and comparative context. The contributions draw on history, politics, geography, cultural studies and sociology to interrogate the continuities and tensions that have shaped national commemoration and the social and political forces that condition this unique international event. New studies of Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific address the relationship between increasingly fractured grand narratives of history and the renewed role of the state in mediating between individual and collective memories. Released to coincide with the beginning of the 2014–2018 centenary period, this collection illuminates the fluid and often contested relationships amongst nation, history and memory in Great War commemoration.
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Keeping in Step: The Anzac ‘Resurgence’ and ‘Military Heritage’ in Australia and New Zealand



In light of much of the recent historical scholarship regarding the resurgence of the Anzac myth over the last two decades, it is now commonly accepted that we can only understand the politics and resurgence of Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand as part of the international surge in the commemoration of war.

Just as it became impossible for scholars to write on nationalism without drawing on Benedict Anderson’s concept of ‘imagined communities’, it is now difficult to write on the contemporary commemoration of war without acknowledging what Jay Winter has described as the ‘second memory boom’ of the late twentieth century. There exists today, particularly in western nations, a global industry concerned with the commemoration of war. This industry is found in both the public and private sphere, it is funded both by states and private corporations and it has been greatly encouraged by global media corporations and the tourist industry. Commercial and market-driven factors (local, national and international) are therefore crucial to understanding the resurgence of Anzac Day as a source of national communion, particularly because they are closely entwined with political and cultural drivers.1

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