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Gender, Nation and the Afghanistan war (2001-2014): a comparative take on (some of) Europe’s newest war memorials

While considerable attention has been paid to historic war memorials that stand as testament to colonial and genocidal crimes, the construction of new monuments commemorating military deaths in current and recent wars has largely escaped public scrutiny.

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Ultramar memorial, Lisbon.Memorial dedicated to soldiers of the Portuguese army who died during the overseas War of 1961 to 1974. The Monumento Combatentes Ultramar memorial comprises of three distinctive sections; the flame, the monument and memorial wall.

This presentation will take a critical look at examples of European war memorials built between 2001 and 2017, asking how they came to be there in those particular forms. In doing so, it will ask how these new monuments speak to contemporary questions of national identity. What do they tell us about what those wars were for, and why are the politics of race and gender so important in analyzing the force of militarism today? 

Vron Ware is a professor at Kingston University London.Vron Ware has worked as a journalist, photographer and environmental designer, and is currently a professor of sociology and gender studies at Kingston University. Her book Beyond the Pale: white women, racism and history was first published in 1991 (reissued in 2015) and since then she has written widely on racism and feminism, the social construction of whiteness and the politics of anti-racism (including Out of Whiteness: color, politics and culture 2002, co-authored with Les Back).

In 2012 she completed a study of institutional racism in the British Army  (Military Migrants, Palgrave) and since then has published articles on militarisation and the cultural heritage of war.

Recently she has been engaged in a collaborative project (funded by the Swedish Research Council) called ‘The Politics of Military Loss in the Afghanistan War’ which looks at the impact of military deaths in six different countries in Europe.