The forgotten soldiers of WWII.

wwii soliders

If you’re wearing a poppy this week and/or participating in commemorative events for the First and Second World Wars, please do not forgot to take a moment to reflect the men and women who travelled from colonised lands all over the world to fight for Europe, at times against their will.

These individuals will probably not receive wide-spread recognition or gratitude for their contributions to the war effort in the coming days, especially on this Sunday 8th November, which will mark another Remembrance Sunday in the UK.

90 000 men were taken from West Africa by the allied forces (who had imperial claims on the land during this time) to fight the Japanese in Burma (Myanmar) during the Second World War. They share their experiences and thoughts on the aftermath of the war in this clip.

Also, over 1 million men from India fought in the First World War in the trenches of Europe on behalf of the British Empire thereby helping to win the war. However this startling and sobering truth – as with the history of the West African soldiers – is absent from most history books and classrooms. Read here about the project taking place in the UK to improve awareness of their contribution to this turning point in European history.

Finally, the Black Presence website is a wonderful historical resource in general, however they also shared some time ago an article specifically about black Caribbean women who were involved in the war effort. While women are generally ignored around the 11th November, black women and the sacrifices they made during the First and Second World Wars is completely absent from the British psyche.

Therefore, if you do decide to wear a poppy this week and join in on any commemorative activities, don’t forget about the brave men and women above who survived and lost their lives fighting for an empire they didn’t choose.

Advertisements

Edward Said on Orientalism – 1998

This insighful docu-interview by Professor Sut Jhally (University of Massachusetts) explores must-have critical and post-colonial text Orientalism (1978) by Edward Said, from the perspective of the scholar himself. Succinctly clarifying “orientalism” as: “the creation of an ideal ‘Other’ for Europe”, Said re-contextualises his monumentally influential work two decades after its first publication date in the late 1970s, addressing 1990s Islamophobia, terrorism and Western perceptions of the Middle East. Said also explains Orientalism’s place alongside his other texts The Question of Palestine (1979) and Covering Islam (1981).

Although the interview was conducted almost 20 years go, many of Said’s observations and conclusions would remain intact given the West’s current relationship with the Islamic world generally and the Middle East more specifically. Therefore, this is enlightening to watch and listen to, giving food for thought on how we simplify the world around us and the potential dangers in doing so.