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Nostalgic for war: Reflections on the stories we tell about World War II and contemporary British militarism

Victoria Basham

Tuesday 16 January 2018, 4.30PM

Speaker: Dr Victoria Basham, Cardiff University

Social and Political Sciences Seminar Series

This talk examines how nostalgia for the Second World War has come to pervade contemporary political and everyday discourse. It asks what this can tell us about the political effects of the way we come to understand previous conflicts and in particular questions what role nostalgia for this war may play in facilitating contemporary militarism.

Paying particular attention to the ways in which contemporary narratives about the Second World War exclude and oversimplify certain socio-economic, gendered, racialised and sexualised experiences, Victoria argues that the Second World War works to legitimise a vision of Britain as a reluctant but responsible global power in spite of the insecurity its foreign policy and military action facilitates for many both within and beyond the British polity. Working from the premise that militarism is not only the outcome of bellicosity but can also come about through desire and ambivalence, the talk also considers some of the key ways in which the Second World War is imagined and performed as a leisure activity. By reducing war to a matter of pleasure and consumerism, she argues that nostalgia for the Second World War also risks facilitating militarism by minimising its visceral, material and human costs.

Speaker biography: Dr Victoria Basham is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Cardiff University. Her research interests lie in the field of critical military studies at the intersections of feminist international relations, critical geopolitics and international political sociology and her main interest is in the co-constitutive relationships between war, militarism and everyday life. Victoria is co-editor in chief of the journal, Critical Military Studies and co-editor of the Advances in Critical Military Studies book series for Edinburgh University Press. She is also serving as the President of the European International Studies Association from 2017-2019.

Other lectures in this series include: 

Location: Room ARC/014, Alcuin Research Resources Centre

Admission: is by free ticket only. Please book below.

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