Volume 5, Issue 1, Spring 2013
Troy R. E. Paddock
“No Man’s Land”: Forbidden and Subversive Space in War
This article explores one of the iconic spaces of the Western Front of the Great War: ‘No Man’s Land.’ It offers an explanation of why one of the most extraordinary events of the First World War, the Christmas Truce of 1914, was only possible in that space. The paper suggests that the subversive nature of the truce required undermined the legitimacy of the state and thus forced state authorities to suppress further similar occurrences.
One of the enduring images of World War I is that of trench warfare, featuring two dug-in-sides firing at each other across a space than spanned anywhere from sixty to two hundred yards. The space that was fired across, dubbed ‘No Man’s Land,’ became an iconic symbol representing the destructive nature of the Great War. This article explores why one of the most extraordinary events of the First World War was only possible in that space and why the event could never be duplicated.