Asia in Flanders Fields. Indians and Chinese on the Western Front, 1914–1920
The First World War brought peoples from five continents to support the British and French Allies on the Western Front. Many were from colonial territories in the British and French empires, and the largest contingents were Indians and Chinese - some 140,000. It is a story of the encounter with the European 'other', including the civilian European local populations, often marred by racism, discrimination and xenophobia both inside and outside the military command, but also lightened by moving and enduring 'human' social relationships. The vital contribution to the Alles and the huge sacrifices involved were scarcely recognised at the Paris Peace Conference in 1918 or the post-war victory celebrations and this led to resentment - see huge media coverage in 2021. The effect of the European 'other' experience enhanced Asian political awareness and self-confidence, and stimulated anti-imperialism and proto-nationalism. This is a vivid and original contribution to imperial decline from the First World War. and the originality of the work is enhanced by rare sources culled from original documents and 'local' European fieldwork - in French, German and Flemish.
Published on 25/01/2022.