NLI hosts Boston College lecture on Gallipoli by Professor Stuart Ward

NLI Seminar Room. 7pm. No booking is required and all are welcome.

This public lecture, delivered by Professor Stuart Ward of the University of Copenhagen, and entitled ‘“Johnnies and Mehmets … side by side”: The redemptive afterlife of Gallipoli in Australia, Turkey and Ireland’, has been organised by Boston College as part of the launch of a dedicated website exploring the Irish experience in Gallipoli.

The lecture examines the commemorative ‘afterlife’ of a single, self-contained WWI battlefield: the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. The original trenchlines of the Gallipoli peninsula are preserved to this day by the surfeit of monuments and commemorative sites arrayed on either side of the ridges and gullies that once narrowly divided allied and Turkish combatants. But whereas a century ago the battlelines signalled bitter conflict and bloody mayhem, today the enduring message is one of shared sacrifice and reconciliation. Particularly for the two nations with the most intimate associations with Gallipoli, Turkey and Australia, the custodianship of the site and observance of annual rituals is steeped in redemptive, pacifist politics. Yet in contrast to similar patterns of shared observance along the Western Front in the decades after 1945, Gallipoli’s commemoratgive culture of atonement emerged in the immediate aftermath of the Great War itself.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s celebrated ‘Johnnies and Mehmets … side by side’ aphorism of 1934 (now memorialised in sandstone at the Australian landing site) was the most definitive expression of this peculiar penchant for making peace from war. Then, as now, the outward forging of a conciliatory bond between former antagonists also worked to submerge internal rivalries and political divisions within those societies. This is borne out by recent moves in the Republic of Ireland to embrace its long-forgotten role in the Gallipoli campaign as an emblem of shared national endeavour across sectarian lines. Understanding the national and transnational dynamics of the redemptive afterlife of Gallipoli among these three former combatants is the main theme of this presentation. It explores the paradox whereby avowedly national uses of the past are sustained by global networks of mediation and the ‘transnational synchronisation of memory cultures’.

NLI Reference: CLON55
NLI Reference: CLON55
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