Bodies in Conflict
Corporeality, Materiality, and Transformation
Edited by Paul Cornish, Nicholas J Saunders
Routledge – 2014 – 228 pages
Twentieth-century war is a unique cultural phenomenon and the last two decades have seen significant advances in our ability to conceptualize and understand the past and the character of modern technological warfare. At the forefront of these developments has been the re-appraisal of the human body in conflict, from the ethics of digging up First World War bodies for television programmes to the contentious political issues surrounding the reburial of Spanish Civil War victims, the relationships between the war body and material culture (e.g. clothing, and prostheses), ethnicity and identity in body treatment, and the role of the ‘body as bomb’ in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond.
Focused on material culture, Bodies in Conflict revitalizes investigations into the physical and symbolic worlds of modern conflict and that have defined us as subjects through memory, imagination, culture and technology. The chapters in this book present an interdisciplinary approach which draws upon, but does not privilege archaeology, anthropology, military and cultural history, art history, cultural geography, and museum and heritage studies. The complexity of modern conflict demands a coherent, integrated, and sensitized hybrid approach which calls on different disciplines where they overlap in a shared common terrain - that of the materiality of conflict and its aftermath in relation to the human body. Bodies in Conflict brings together the diverse interests and expertise of a host of disciplines to create a new intellectual engagement with our corporeal nature in times of conflict.
Introduction 1. Unlawful wounding: projectiles, politics and propaganda 2. Bodies in Objects: Material culture from Sarajevo 3. CWGC’s colonial policy and World War One: "white graves" and Natives 4. White lies and weighted coffins: (re) materialising World War Two air-crash casualties 5. Repatriation, illegal repatriation, and expatriation of the bodies of the First World War 6. My closest enemy 7. Remembering Vietnam with Blackfeet 8. The meaning of mud: British combatants in the First World War 9. Prisoner clothing in Nazi concentration camps 1933-1945 10. Soldiers of the Great War: Archaeololgical investigations of the A19 Motorway extension 11. Material culture and the ‘after-care’ of disabled soldiers in First World War Britain 12. The black male body in the white imagination during the First World War 13. Absent Bodies: The fate of the vanquished in the Spanish Civil War 14. In their shoes: The conservation and display of victim’s shoes at the United States Holocaust Memorial 15. Men in Pain: Silence, Stories and Soldiers’ Bodies 16. Making the Soldier Body: Training in the Royal Marine Commandos
Paul Cornish is a Senior Curator at the Imperial War Museum. He is currently working on the creation of a new permanent First World War gallery, to open in 2014. He has co-organised five IWM-based international conferences on the material culture of conflict with Nicholas J Saunders and has co-edited the volume Contested Objects published by Routledge in 2009.
Nicholas J Saunders is Senior Lecturer at Bristol University, Honorary Reader in Material Culture at University College London, and co-director of two long-term First World War projects: the ‘Great Arab Revolt Archaeological Project’ (Jordan), and the ‘Isonzo Valley Conflict Landscapes Project’ (Slovenia/Italy). Between 1998 and 2004, he was British Academy Senior Research Fellow at University College London, making the first anthropological study of the First World War. Since 1999 he has published many academic articles and books on the archaeology and anthropology of modern conflict.