Hierarchies of Service: Gender in Britain's Commemorative Landscape

Wednesday 17 November 2021 (14:00-15:30)

Dr Kate Smith (k.smith@bham.ac.uk)

statue of a woman, part of a war memorial

Professor Corinna Peniston-Bird, Department of History, Lancaster University 

We know that war throws gender norms into stark relief: that is equally true of its memorialisation. The 21st century has proved a fascinating period in which to study the commemoration of the World Wars in Britain. Since the turn of this century, the memorial landscape of Britain has been revised through numerous new monuments seeking to emphasise old or insert new narratives into public representations of war. This is particularly striking in terms of gender: whereas civilian men remain marginalised, in representations of women the breadth of roles adopted in wartime are increasingly acknowledged. However, their potential to disrupt the gender order is consistently contained.  Drawing on a wide range of monuments, some archival holdings and a smattering of oral interviews, this paper will reflect on the sculptural renderings of wartime hierarchies of service.

This event is being organised by Birmingham Research Institute for History and Cultures (BRIHC), in collaboration with the Centre for War Studies (CWS).

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