Abstract

Abstract:

Internment in camps for enemy aliens during the First World War might have led to a commonality of experience given that all civilian prisoners of war (POWs) were theoretically enduring the same material conditions. However, the privileges associated with social rank and with wealth led to profoundly different bodily regimes within these camps. The British class system was in fact perpetuated within the civilian internment camps established in the United Kingdom and among British subjects interned by the enemy, particularly in relation to the consumption of additional and superior food and drink that arrived in parcels from home and was provided at camp facilities for the privileged. These class distinctions had tangible material consequences for the interned, as not all bodies were equally subjected to the privations of the camp regime. That some POWs had access to more and better food throughout much of the First World War underscores the British state's lack of commitment to the ideal of equality of bodily sacrifice. Instead the British government was complicit in perpetuating class inequalities both among its own subjects and those it had interned, even during a moment of international crisis when the social order was clearly being upended.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1897
Print ISSN
0022-4529
Pages
pp. 487-507
Launched on MUSE
2019-12-19
Open Access
No
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