A Southern War

Christine Winter is convening a one-day symposium at ANU on 28 November: A Southern War: Australia, the Pacific and WWI. See: A Southern War Symposium Flyer.

WWI is remembered as a European war, but it was one which drew on the colonized populations of the belligerent nations. Of the 888,246 dead of Britain and its empire there remains scant interest of the dead  and the events that unfolded in the Global South. Yet the capture and occupation of German Samoa and New Guinea are among the first empire campaigns of WWI.

This symposium is interested in the question of WWI and the Global South: what are the engagements, intentions or events in our region; what are the legacies; how do we see WWI in the Pacific: as a side show, a colonial war, or a war peculiar to interests of Australia and New Zealand and the Global South?

The focus on WWI, Australia and the Pacific is part of broader attempts to understand our region, the South-West Pacific as part of the Global South. For this re-conceptualization a paradigm shift is needed, such as that outlined by the anthropologist and historian James Clifford. Identifying ambivalence, diversity, multi-located and de-centered structures as starting points, he called for new theoretical frameworks for analyzing the diverse and dynamic region of the Western Pacific, exemplar sites of ‘aprogressive narratives of modernity’.