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The Afghan War and ‘postmodern’ memory: commemoration and the dead of Helmand


  • Anthony King



Since 2006, Britain has been fighting an intense military campaign in Helmand in which over 200 soldiers have been killed. The article examines the way in which twentieth-century commemorative rituals, which mourned the sacrifice of anonymous individual soldiers for the nation, have been superseded by new lapidary conventions which fundamentally revise the status of the soldier in public imagination. In acts of remembrance today, soldiers are personalized and domesticated, remembered as fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. The article concludes by considering the political implications of this revision of public understanding.