Asia In Flanders Fields Museum
Indians and Chinese on the Western Front, 1914-1920
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Dominiek Dendooven's fascinating study reveals how the First world War turned west Flanders and north-eastern France into a global crossroads. In this minutely researched work, he examines the way cultures intersected and the depth of legacy inspired by these meetings. He shows how the people of France and Flanders viewed detachments from India and China and examines the perspectives of those of who travelled across the globe to serve in an entirely novel environment. (Mark Connelly, Professor of Modern History, University of Kent)
The First World War brought people from five continents to support the British and French Allies on the Western Front. Many were from colonial territories in the British and French empires, and the largest contingents were Indians and Chinese - a total of some 140,000. It is a story of the encounter with the European 'other', including the civilian European locan populations, often marred by racism, discrimination and xenophobia both inside and outside the miltary command but also lightened by moving and enduring 'human' social relationships. The vital contribution to the Allies and the huge sacrifices involved were scarcely recognised at the Paris Peace Conference or the post-war victory celebrations leading to resentment. And the effect of the European 'other' experience enhanced Asian political awareness and selfconfidence, and stimulated anti-imperialism and even proto-nationalism. This is a vivid and orginal contribution to imperial decline empire from the First World War. And the orginality of the work is enhanced by rare sources culled from original documents and 'local' European fieldwork - French, German, Flemish and Dutch.