University of Hertfordshire

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Description

'Everyday Lives in War' aims to build productive community engagement and research partnerships with the capacity to stretch and even surprise all involved. It connects university and community researchers to explore histories and legacies of the First World War through collaborative histories, creative performance, source exploration, practical experiment and digital sharing. The Centre has a physical base three geographical regions: eastern and central England; South West England; and the North West, and supports collaborative partnerships across the U.K.

In developing objectives and a programme of activities for a second phase of work (2017-19), the Centre has reflected on experience since 2014. Phase 1 for ELIW can be summed up as a process of making communities of interest. This was particularly significant because our research themes of food, theatre, childhood, farming, supernatural beliefs, cartoons, military tribunals and conscientious objection, ran counter to the dominant trajectory of national UK commemoration. Phase 2 consolidates our topics under the heading of 'everyday life' and builds on our commitment to listening to diverse voices.
The Centre will continue innovative dialogues between university and community researchers. In 2017 the Centre will embark on connecting communities of interest. It will draw on the expertise and enthusiasm evident in the collaborative projects funded by the Centre, in HLF-funded and other grassroots community groups, and in the work of independent researchers. Our aim here is to foster sustainable and creative research networks, reach under-represented groups, inspire new FWW projects (and applications to HLF) and to explore best practice in realising this ambition. In 2018, we will highlight international contexts to deepen the research networks and understanding of the everyday life theme. The programme for 2019 will draw together the work of the previous 5 years in a final intensive phase of reflection on legacy: historical legacies of the FWW in the UK and the wider world; the significance of the centenary as a device for thinking forward through the past; and lessons for working as an 'engaged university'.

'Everyday life' offers a powerful tool in exploring 'stories hidden even to ourselves', and in reflecting on memory, scale and the relevance of present-day issues in constructing different national pasts. The impact of the FWW on those born since 1919 allows the Centre to address inter-generational relationships and re-think the meanings of 'legacy'.

Geographical communities are significant to the Centre, but so is the inclusion of communities of interest, belief, practice, circumstance or experience. Through co-produced research, the Centre is developing intellectual and cultural contexts to enrich historical understanding of the FWW. Phase 2 will expand these insights by considering the significance of 'hands-on history' when communities of makers engage creatively with FWW histories of their crafts.

The centenary of the FWW is an opportunity to probe in innovative ways the historical significance of a period which resonates strongly in contemporary Britain. In 2013, the precise form of centenary activities, the relationship between academic and public histories, and the influence of the state and other bodies in shaping memorialisation, were still uncertain. A conjunction of meticulous research, living tradition and multiple end users, is creating a situation that is itself a fascinating subject for analysis and an occasion for profound dialogue about the nature of scholarship and heritage in 21st-century Britain.
Short titleFWW Centre
AcronymELIW
StatusActive
Period1/01/1731/12/19

Research outputs

ID: 10734590