Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Global Nautre of WWI

If you are studying WWI and want to teach students about its global nature, two sites, The Guardian and the British Library, offer both stories and video clips that clearly outlines that global nature.

The Guardian has a three minute clip called "Empire" that reminds us that Britain brought in the most colonial soldiers, conscripting over a million men from their Indian colony and France brought in over 200,000 Africans to work in French factories.

The Guardian clips show how some countries like India saw their participation as a bargaining chip for greater political participation and even independence.

The British Library has a number of stories about racism and nationalism in WWI. The historian, Richard S. Fogarty, suggests in one story that the understanding of race changed by the 20th century, "moving toward a more biological understanding of human difference and its significance, with an emphasis on physical features such as colour."

Fogerty argues that colonial possessions played the most important part in injecting race into military strategy.  Colonial participation in the war often reinforced racial stereotypes as these colonial soldiers became more visible to the European public.

Germany exploited the religious faith of some of it prisoners of war. According to Fogerty, "the German army made much of the ‘exotic’ soldiers it captured from among enemy troops, often subjecting Africans and Asians to anthropological study in the camps and using images of the prisoners in propaganda."

Both the Guardian and the British Library are awesome resources for helping us to understand the truly global nature of the WWI.

Here are some other resources on WWI that I found on Angela Lee's interesting blog about AP World History.

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