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Background

In 2015, Southern Voices (Manchester) were awarded £60,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, ‘Out of the Shadows: 1914-18 Perspectives of Colonised People’.  This is two-year project (September 2015 to August 2017).

The project will explore the role and experiences of the colonised peoples of the British West Indies, Nigeria, India, German and British East Africa during the First World War.

Southern Voices will be working with the People’s History Museum, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, the Imperial War Museum War Museum of the North, the Z-Arts Centre, Whalley Range Youth Opportunities Association, Chorlton High School and the Jamaica Society among others.  We will be producing an exhibition, educational resources available via a website, a programme of workshops and talks.

This is an opportunity for people to gain a different perspective of the war through the eyes of people who were colonial subjects at the time.

Why the need for this project?

The impact of the 1914-18 war on colonised countries has been largely neglected and absent from current ‘commemoration’ activities.

There are number of reasons for this project:

  • For a better, accurate and informed understanding of history
  • For a better reflection of a multi-cultural and plural society (not where only certain sectors and ethnicities histories and experiences are being validated)
  • Current anniversary and interest in the history of the war provides an opportunity to contribute different perspectives
  • The acknowledgement that there is an information and perspectives gap and a strong desire to help fill this void and provide an opportunity to engage a differing groups of peoples and networks in this work.

What is the project’s area of interest?

Our focus is on four regions/countries (British India, British West Indies, Nigeria and British/German East Africa) chosen because of their very contrasting colonial background and experience of World War One.

We explore the following questions of each area:

  • What was life like under British colonialism in 1914?
  • Having being brought into the war through the colonial tie, what was their experiences of war?
  • What was the impact of the war on the colonies (on their ‘home fronts’); and in the aftermath,
  • What was the war’s influence on the development of movements towards independence?