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Unit information: Anthropological Archaeology of the 1st and 2nd World Wars in 2015/16

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Unit name Anthropological Archaeology of the 1st and 2nd World Wars
Unit code ARCH30027
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Saunders
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This course aims to give students a comprehensive understanding of, and theoretical and analytical ability to interpret, the key 2 global conflicts of the 20th century as a core aspect of 20th century conflict archaeology. The Unit introduces the inter disciplinary study of the conflict landscapes and material culture of the first and Second World Wars by archaeologists, anthropologists, and museum and heritage specialists. It emphasizes the global context of these conflicts, and assesses the complex challenges presented by the ethical, political, and national dimensions of this new kind of archaeology.


The aim of this unit is to provide the student with comprehensive knowledge of and analytical insights into the military and cultural events of the First and Second World Wars - particularly as they relate to the landscapes and objects of conflict. It will demonstrate how archaeological and anthropological approaches, when creatively combined, can yield a diverse range of critical understandings of conflict beyond military history. Case studies show how such multidisciplinary approaches can be used, applied to any modern conflict, and how employing a range of analytical scales illustrates the cultural and emotional costs and legacies of modern conflict. Topics include:

The material culture and experience of occupation The archaeology of aerial war Multi-vocal landscapes of conflict for military and civilians Media representations of conflict Global contexts and interrelationships of 2 world wars Field Trip to a relevant site and special collections

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of this unit, a successful student will be able to:

1) Recognise the origins, scope and potential of modern conflict archaeology as it relates to the First and Second World Wars.

2) Through case studies, identify, conceptualise and interpret a range of evidence and issues relating to these conflicts and reflexively to mainstream archaeology.

3)Use empirical knowledge and mastery of theory to identify and investigate a range of other conflicts from a variety of intellectual perspectives

4) Through critical reading and presentation of a particular topic, summarise, synthesise and analyse the range of critical data and issues concerning modern conflict

Teaching Information

  • 10 x 2hr Lectures, timetabled as one two-hour block
  • 4 x 1 hr seminars, timetabled as one hour sessions on a different day

Assessment Information

Two essays of 3000 words each (50% each) - assesses ILOs 1-4

Reading and References

Virilio, P. 2009. Bunker Archaeology. Princeton Architectural Press. Fraser, Alistair. 2009. Filming the Somme. Pen and Sword.

Dendooven, D & P Chielens. 2008. Five Continents in Flanders. Lanoo.

Saunders, N.J. 2004. Matters of Conflict. Abingdon: Routledge

Saunders, N. 2007. Killing Time: Archaeology and the First World War. Sutton