Empires at War, 1912–23: Rethinking the Great War a Century On
The First World War is hardly a neglected subject of historical research. Yet – understandably perhaps, given the centrality of the fighting in Western Europe – most of the literature produced over the past ninety years has focused on the events on the Western Front and their impact on Britain, France and Germany. Most of these histories proceed within two main assumptions: first that the war began with the sounding of the “guns of August” in 1914 and ended with the Armistice of 11 November 1918. Second, that the war was primarily one of nation-states, and that it was largely a European affair. Both of these assumptions will be challenged in our panel discussion. We will examine the Great War within a frame that is both longer (temporally) and wider (spatially) than it typically is; and will argue that we should see the war not merely as a war between nation-states, but as a war of empires.