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Environment, Space, Place

Volume 8, Issue 2, Fall 2016

Richard Smith
Pages 7-28
DOI: 10.5840/esplace2016829

Multicultural Commemoration and West Indian Military Service in the First World War

West Indian military service in the First World War is recalled in many settings. During the war, race and class boundaries of colonial society were temporarily eroded by visions of imperial unity, but quickly restated through post-war assertions of imperial authority. However, recollections of wartime sacrifices were kept alive by Pan-African, ex-service and emerging nationalist groups before being incorporated into independent Caribbean national identity and migrant West Indian communities. During the centenary commemorations, West Indian participation has increasingly been mediated through literature, theatre and broadcasting. Spheres of conflict which provided more heroic visions, such as the Middle East or the Taranto mutiny, have acquired particular symbolic importance, contrasting with the more tragic representations of the war as a whole.