American heritage abroad: the connection between military cemeteries and soft power

Reynolds, Kyle (2023). American heritage abroad: the connection between military cemeteries and soft power. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Military cemeteries play an important role in present day heritage and history commemoration events. More than simple repositories for war dead, military cemeteries are built with certain symbolic and interpretive meanings for visitors. This symbolism and meaning helps them to become the setting for political speeches and commemoration events in the present day. As such, military cemeteries function as part of memorial, heritage, and cultural diplomatic strategies around the world. This thesis focuses on the military cemeteries overseen by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). Being located outside of the United States (US), and primarily visited by visitors from the host country, the ABMC cemeteries provide a case study of the uses that military cemeteries have in the contemporary world. Using legislative historiography, heritagescape, and access map methodologies under a semiotic interpretive framework, this thesis examines the ABMC and its cemeteries from their inception to the present day. Most of the cemeteries overseen by the ABMC hold the war dead from the First and Second World Wars. The symbolism and meaning of these cemeteries tell visitors a specific story and version of history centered on the US and their status within the emerging inter- and post-war global power structures. Visitors experience these stories in different ways depending on what aspects of and what way they maneuver through the cemeteries. This thesis shows how soft power is constructed at US military cemeteries located in foreign countries to support international diplomatic efforts and ideas of American exceptionalism.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH)
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
J Political Science > JZ International relations


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