ABSTRACT

Chapter Two lays out the varying narratives of collective memory in national and local commemorations. It reviews the literature on British and French nationalism, emphasising the ways in which each has been constructed as the mirror of the other, and their respective framings of national memory. It traces the dominant memory of the First World War in each country over the course of the past century, arguing that this case provides a window into each country's traditions of national memory and, by extension, each country's nationalism. Yet during the centenary, French centennial commemorations were decentralised and refrained from grand narratives. British commemorations, in contrast, sought to nationalise and valorise the memory of Britain's role in the war. Turning to local sites of memory, the chapter identifies three narratives: mourning, mobilisation, and melancholia. At each field site, all three narratives were present to varying degrees; a particular narrative of memory, however, predominated in the contemporary material form of each site. The diversity of narratives in local sites of memory challenges the notion that British and French nationalisms are ideal types; rather, they draw attention to the transnational character of nationalism, empire, and memory.