Political History

Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931 by Susan Kingsley Kent

By Susan Kingsley Kent

This booklet examines the effect of collective trauma bobbing up out of the nice battle at the politics of the Twenties in Britain. Aftershocks experiences how meanings of shellshock and imagery proposing the traumatized psyche as shattered contributed to Britons understandings in their political selves within the Twenties. It connects the strength of feelings to the political tradition of a decade which observed outstanding violence opposed to these considered as un-English.

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Additional resources for Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931

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McNeill went so far as to say that the determination “to keep our own country for our own people” far outweighed issues of housing, health, land acquisition, and reconstructive reform generally. ” Disease, drug use, gambling, vice, and “unnatural offences,” MPs insisted, endemic to “Asiatic” populations (using the term Asiatic in reference to Jews) would be brought into Britain and be allowed to flourish; and as “Asiatics” did not assimilate but kept to their own communities and preserved their own culture, they could not but act as “a source of weakness and danger” to the country.

Moreover, the mechanisms by which traumatized individuals seek to escape the agonies of their memories may be utilized by larger collectivities as well. 30 The images of the Great War—of the industrial onslaught of heavy artillery upon the physical landscape and, most importantly, on the minds and bodies of the men in the trenches—provided a template of sorts for organizing oneself in relation to the world that differed from earlier manifestations of trauma, such as those from railway accidents or the American civil war, for example.

The yearning for unity permeated public discourse, especially that associated with the memorialization of Armistice Day and the Tomb of the Unknowns. ” The Daily Express used the occasion of that day in 1919 to urge that “there must be a truce in domestic quarrels, an end to industrial strife. ” The London Times Armistice Day Supplement for 1920 described that year’s service of remembrance in Westminster Abbey as a “proclamation, gladly made, that we are all equal, all members of one body, or rather one soul .

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