The First World War & it’s Legacy: Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience festival will run on 27-28 April the M-Shed in Bristol. It is a free public event.
The prevailing narrative of WW1 is one of jingoistic nationalism that we have been drip-fed for over 100 years, by the ruling & political classes desperate to maintain an image of national unity & a ‘good’ war. However, the resistance to war from workers, women and some intellectuals were extensive. he war’s end was messy and in many ways indecisive, and culminated in arguably the closest the world has come to a global revolution, in 1918/19, as workers around the world were inspired by the ideas behind the Russian Revolution. It also signified the beginning of the end for the British Empire. That potential global revolution was stamped upon, brutally as ever, by Europe’s ruling elites & armies, and by the barbaric Stalinism that leaders in Russia moved towards. We continue to pay the price for the failure of those revolutions to this day. To have, in Bristol, a festival that goes beyond those prevailing WW1 narratives, and is as close to a class-based anti-war perspective as we are likely to see, is a rare opportunity.
What is the event? “COMMEMORATION, CONFLICT and CONSCIENCE is a year-long project, which culminates in a national festival in Bristol. The project looks at ‘hidden’ or lesser known stories of the First World War, legacy, peace-building & alienation from commemoration. We are: uniting existing community groups and researchers, focusing on their work to date & generating new research; showcasing existing artistic work and performances and fostering new creative projects.” But in fact it’s the culmination of much more than a one year project involving researchers, academics, historians and peace activists.
Whilst the main festival runs for 2 days at M-Shed, there are other events running alongside it, some for an evening, and some for several weeks. There is also a Puppet History Walk that will uncover the hidden histories of local people who resisted the First World War, by the Otherstory puppeteers – on Sunday at 10.15am, leaving from M-Shed, full details here. There have already been multiple events, and there are more to come around the UK, see here.
The full programme for the weekend include talks, workshops, panels, book launches, art & exhibitions, eight films, performances, tours, the puppet history walk, stalls, and a Saturday night social. The full detailed programme can be found here.