War Memory workshop: music, commemoration, museums

19th December 2017, 12-3pm
Armstrong Building 2.09


Rhiannon Mason: introduction, chair and commentary

John Morgan O’Connell (keynote) – ‘Old Gallipoli’: Music in the Commemoration of a Campaign.

This paper concerns the ways in which a song articulates different conceptions of Irish identity during the Great War. With reference to the song entitled ‘Old Gallipoli’, the presentation will address the complex positionality of Irish volunteers who fought on the side of the Allied forces during the Dardanelles Campaign (1915-1916). Ostensibly fighting for Home Rule in Ireland, the talk explores how music helps understand an Irish reading of wartime tragedy, be it on the bloody shores of Cape Helles (25 April, 1915) or during the stalled offensive at Suvla Bay (6 August, 1915). Although the text of Old Gallipoli is implicitly critical of British command in the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, the music of Old Gallipoli recalls a more complex history, one where Irish soldiers were complicit in – yet critical of – the colonial project, and one where Irish politicians were obliged to support an imperialist position while at the same time hoping to advance a nationalist agenda.

In particular, the paper examines the musical iterations of ‘Old Gallipoli’ in Irish history. Following an established narrative, the presentation will trace the textual connection between ‘Old Gallipoli’ and the vaudeville number called ‘The Mountains of Mourne’ (by Percy French), and the musical connection between ‘Old Gallipoli’ and the orientalist verse entitled ‘Bendemeer’s Stream’ (by Thomas Moore). At an intermediary point, the received history points to a musical link between ‘Old Gallipoli’ and the revolutionary ballad named ‘Carrigdhoun’ (by Denny Lane). While the musical setting of ‘Old Gallipoli’ discloses multiple registers of Irish identity, a critical examination of archival sources shows that ‘Carrigdhoun’ was originally set to another tune, a melody that was later used to accompany a nationalist song called the ‘Foggy Dew’ (by Charles O’Neill) in support of the Easter Rising (1916). In this way, a tune may reveal an ‘archaeology of memory’ where each stratum discloses a distinctive conception of Irish identity in the commemoration of a military campaign.

Joanne Sayner and Jenny Kidd – Centenaries of the Present: Commemoration, Participation and the Poppies on Tour

It is now axiomatic that memory is always of the present. What, though, can be said about the manifestations of the present that are performed for large-scale anniversary commemorations? What happens to discourses of the present when there are multiple moments of centenary commemoration? What might be said about intersecting temporal and geographical presents? This paper investigates these questions by taking as its case study the tour of two set pieces from the installation ‘Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red’ which was produced in the UK to mark the centenary of the First World War in 2014. The original installation of 888,246 red poppies in the moat of the Tower of London was as high profile as it was controversial and it is estimated that five million people visited in the four months it was on site. We reflect on visitor responses collated as the set pieces (‘Wave’ and ‘Weeping Window’) have travelled around the UK since then. We investigate what the data tells us in the face of remarkable geo-political upheaval since the start of the centenary of the First World War and what this might tell us about the longevity of commemorative practice.

Mads Daugbjerg, Gönül Bozoğlu and Chris Whitehead – On the edge of Europe: Gallipoli and the ‘crossings’ of heritage and memory

This talk discusses the present Gallipoli ‘memoryscape’ and its complex, multiple narratives and performances in which several national and transnational projects clash, overlap and transform. The 1915 Gallipoli/Gelibolu campaign is well-known as a cornerstone of three different ‘birth of nation’ stories. Modern Turkey, Australia and New Zealand have all, in some versions of their respective histories, been said to somehow ‘grow out of’ Gallipoli – and the peninsula also hosts British and French memorial services over a few intense April days each year. It is thus a space in which strongly (but differently posed) national projects and prides intersect with diplomatic attempts at stressing transnational or even cosmopolitan ties and values. We outline some key currents in this web of criss-crossing projects, agendas and perspectives, adding up to what we call a site of memory crossings on the edge of Europe. We describe the practices and plights of this ‘memorial diplomacy’, based on our back-stage visit to a British-led ceremony at Cape Helles. Viewed from the Turkish side, we discuss Gallipoli as a site of symbolic struggle. State-sponsored domestic heritage tourism is on the rise here, as long-established Atatürkist national narratives are under pressure from new layers of memories and new heroes pedestalled by the Justice and Development Party regime led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

This workshop is supported by the Horizon 2020 project CoHERE (Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe). CoHERE explores the ways in which identities in Europe are constructed through heritage representations and performances that connect to ideas of place, history, tradition and belonging. The research identifies existing heritage practices and discourses in Europe. It also identifies means to sustain and transmit European heritages that are likely to contribute to the evolution of inclusive, communitarian identities and counteract disaffection with, and division within, the EU. A number of modes of representation and performance are explored in the project, from cultural policy, museum display, heritage interpretation, school curricula and political discourse to music and dance performances, food and cuisine, rituals and protest.

The CoHERE project seeks to identify, understand and valorise European heritages, engaging with their socio-political and cultural significance and their potential for developing communitarian identities. CoHERE addresses an intensifying EU Crisis through a study of relations between identities and representations and performances of history. It explores the ways in which heritages can be used for division and isolation, or to find common ground and ‘encourage modern visions and uses of its past.’ The research covers a carefully selected range of European territories and realities comparatively and in depth; it focuses on heritage practices in official and non-official spheres and engages with various cultural forms, from the living arts to museum displays, food culture, education, protest, commemorations and online/digital practice, among others. CoHERE is funded through Horizon 2020, and responds to the Reflective Societies programme.



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