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Memories of War and Peace in Flanders Fields: The Great War Centenary and the Memory Boom

Maarten Van Alstein

Abstract


Abstract

The centenary commemoration of the First World War in 2014-2018 will generate an overwhelming interest, not only on the part of audiences but also of governments. In light of the ‘memory boom’ and the growing popularity of heritage in the last decades this should come as no surprise. At the same time, we can expect that the centenary will raise a number of criticisms and critical discussions not only about the politics of memory, but also about remembrance tourism, the commercial aspects of memory and heritage, and the relations of commemoration with historiography. Starting from the case of Flanders in Belgium, where the regional government has set up a large-scale project for the centennial, this paper takes a closer look at these discussions. Stressing the ambivalence of war commemorations, in its analysis of the centenary the paper suggests moving from a position of mere criticism which denounces certain political and commercial uses of war history to a critique of commemoration, which not only criticises practices but also recognises possibilities and merits of public commemorations of war.

Keywords: War Commemoration – First World War centenary – Memory Boom

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Bibliography: Van Alstein, Maarten: Memories of War and Peace in Flanders Fields: The Great War Centenary and the Memory Boom, ERIS, 2-2014, pp. 31-49. https://doi.org/10.3224/eris.v1i2.16502


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