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World War II Re-explored

Some New Millenium Studies in the History of the Global Conflict

Edited By Jarosław Suchoples, Stephanie James and Barbara Törnquist-Plewa

This volume is a collection of thirty papers written by authors from around the world. The writers focus on topics related to their own research interests. As a result, readers obtain a worldwide perspective on World War II from academics working on nearly every continent, proving that World War II was, probably, the first ever truly global experience for humanity. Present are many and different perspectives on the war. Eighty years after the end of World War II, these academics share their knowledge and reflections about a gruesome, but still not very remote time. In the new millennium, their studies should remind readers that the ‘end of history’ has been an impossible illusion and warn that peace and stability in international relations are not a given.

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‘Our Earth Shook’: New Guinean Histories of the Pacific War

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Abstract: In the histories of the Pacific War, and its impact on Papua and New Guinea, accounts of the war reconstruct and analyze battles and troop movements in great detail. In contrast, this chapter focuses on the actions and plight of villagers, using rare documents written by senior New Guinean men during and shortly after the war. During the Pacific War, the strategically important yet confined area, the Huon Peninsula in New Guinea, was a contested space. A former German protectorate, administered by Australia as a C Mandate of the League of Nations, it was occupied by the Japanese in early 1942, and regained by the Allies in late 1943, early 1944. Members of all 3 nations which had claimed formal colonial control were present throughout these eventful 2 years – occupying Japanese, Australian coastwatchers operating behind enemy lines, and German missionaries – imposing on New Guineans for assistance and cooperation. By bringing New Guinean experiences to the fore, this chapter is narrating localized histories which are more than simply small, local micro-histories. They represent a fundamental change in outlook. The late influential Tongan intellectual, historian and theorist, Epeli Hau’ofa, re-conceptualized the Pacific as a ‘sea of islands’ in which local identity is not dissolved, but embedded in a shared Ocean. He argues a strategic and moral concept of Pacific-Oceanic identity and history as a process. Focusing on New Guinea villagers, this chapter intends to create grounded and localized histories as a first step in a bigger process of creating...

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