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Asia In Flanders Fields. A Transnational History of Indians and Chinese on the Western Front, 1914-1920

Dendooven, Dominiek (2018) Asia In Flanders Fields. A Transnational History of Indians and Chinese on the Western Front, 1914-1920. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium. (KAR id:67923)

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During the First World War people from the five continents resided in France and Flanders, mostly in service of of the French and British armies. Besides European settlers, it concerned hundreds of thousands of indigenous inhabitants from many colonies. The two largest subaltern groups who served on the Western Front in British service - each in itself accounting for some 140,000 men - were Asian: from the Indian subcontinent and from China. In my book I investigate not only their motives to join up and the nature of their war service on the Western Front, but above all how these subaltern groups experienced a modern war in Europe and what impact this residence in a Europe-in-war had on their subsequent lives and on the society to which they returned.

A central position in my judgment of their war experiences is their meeting with the European 'other', the local populations who hosted these uninvited guests. I investigate how the European population underwent the confrontation with their non-European guests, but especially which impression the Europeans, their society and their culture made upon the Asian rank and file. In- and outside the Army Indians and Chinese were confronted with different degrees of xenophobia, racism and discrimination, while at the same time friendly engagements with Europeans also occurred. All this lead to a strengthened self- and (proto)national consciousness that manifested itself in initiatives in different domains of human activity: politics, culture, education, ....

Through the comparative perspective, differences as well as similarities between both Asian groups on the Western Front become clear, and parallels can be drawn in their evolution towards a stronger (self)consciousness and an increasing identification with the (proto)nation through their war experiences in Europe. In this respect, so I argue, the war experiences of Indians and Chinese on the Western front contributed to the increasingly anti-imperialist feelings and attitudes in both countries.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Connelly, Mark
Thesis advisor: Beyen, Marnix
Uncontrolled keywords: First World War Western Front Asia Empire Colonialism Nationalism Subaltern Studies
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I (1914-1918)
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2018 10:13 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 02:46 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Dendooven, Dominiek.

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