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War Can Forge Soldiers Identities

المصدر: مجلة مقابسات
الناشر: جامعة تونس المنار - المعهد العالي للعلوم الإنسانية
المؤلف الرئيسي: Ben Jemia, Ahlem (Auth)
المجلد/العدد: مج11
محكمة: نعم
الدولة: تونس
التاريخ الميلادي: 2018
الصفحات: 57 - 68
DOI: 10.37404/1446-011-000-006
ISSN: 2286-511X
رقم MD: 1011919
نوع المحتوى: بحوث ومقالات
اللغة: الإنجليزية
قواعد المعلومات: HumanIndex
مواضيع:
كلمات المؤلف المفتاحية:
History from Below | British and American Identities Flexibility | Great War | Soldiers War Songs
رابط المحتوى:
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المستخلص: This article is of the "History from below" type. History from Below advocates: "the opening up of traditional disciplines to the study of non-traditional populations, texts, arrangements of living, and cultural productions... the rich variety of experiences, resist¬ance, exclusion, alignments, subordinations, and pleasures in¬scribed into the life of the ordinary" (Dean, J. ed. Cultural Studies and Political Theory, 2009). Starting from the 20th century, histo¬rians began to realize the richness of ordinary peoples' lives. This kind of history is considered as limitless: "nothing was off-limits for the historian, no aspect of life is obscure: everything, from birth, death and disease to time, space and distance, from fear, hatred and anxiety to faith, fanaticism and delusion, was open to historical investigation" (London Review of Books, 3 December 2009). Unlike traditional history (History from Above), new history is not confined to political events, but it gives insights into social, cultural, econom¬ic, and human ideas, reactions and reflections, focusing on differ¬ent categories of persons regardless of their status, race, gender, ethnic group, etc. And thus it gives clear insights about the identity of ordinary people. In this article, I want to demonstrate that the spatial context can reflect people's identity, and sometimes it can even forge new iden¬tities that are mainly reflective of that space. Being interested in the lives of the British and American ordi¬nary soldiers during the Great War, I was able to conclude that the armies, which are mainly constituted of ordinary soldiers, can give insights on their own societies and obviously their own identities in the new context of war. "Identity means the fact of being who or what a person or thing is or it means a close similarity or feel¬ing of understanding". (Oxford English Dictionary) "Armies mirror their own societies in all kinds of way" (Reid, Brian Holden and John White., eds. American Studies: Essays in Honour of Marcus Cunliffe. London: Macmillan, 1991). A society can be mirrored by many in¬stitutions; among them I can mention the military institution. Af¬ter studying a set of British and American war songs (I define war songs as the songs produced by the soldiers during their time in the trenches, in training camps, on the march, in and out of the hos¬pitals, in billets, and in estaminets...), it was averred that there were great differences between the British and the American identities which were obvious during their participation in the Great War, In spite of the cultural similarities between the two countries, the war experience helped clarify the dissimilarities in the traits of identi¬ty of each community. Both armies left their countries of origin to fight for some causes in the Western Front. The soldiers’ songs which were the fruit of a lived experience reflected the distinct iden¬tities of the British and American soldiers in a new spatial context, the war trenches. The war, as a destructive human experience, translated the sol¬diers' identities which reflected their cultural backgrounds and it created new identities that were mainly reflective of the new con¬text; the war context. The war forged the identity of the soldiers who are mainly ordinary people who used to lead normal lives, the latter were compelled to adapt to a new context which encouraged them to uncover new identities that were in most times unexpected (homosexuality, sympathy towards the enemy, their stance to¬wards their officials and towards French women, patriotism...)

ISSN: 2286-511X

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