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Seeing Others

Europe was the scene of intense human movement during the First World War. Modern means of transportation facilitated considerable military activity, widening the fields of operations and conveying personnel across vast distances. While battlefields stretched past the Mediterranean to the Middle East, North Africa, and East Africa, warfare was of course most intense in Europe. Troops such as the German Schutztruppe were recruited in the far reaches of colonial empires. ANZAC soldiers sailed from Australia and New Zealand, and the Indian Army sent over one million troops overseas to support the British Commonwealth. The French Armée coloniale transported soldiers from North and West Africa, Indochina, and Madagascar, including the Moroccan Spahi cavalry (not to be confused with the Ottoman Sipahi cavalry corps), who helped defend France during the outset of the war in 1914. And North American soldiers such as Cornell architecture student Charles Baskerville (Class of 1919, who interrupted his studies to join the 42nd Infantry, “Rainbow Division”), came in contact with a wide range of nationalities and traditions when they found themselves thousands of miles from home. Like so many other millions of transplanted people who crossed the battlefields of the “Great War,” they recognized and marked cultural difference. Such encounters often produced a fair amount of satire, as in the cartoon maps produced by both sides of the conflict that overlaid cartography with stereotype.

  • Case Background: Battle Fronts of Europe. London: Roberts & Leete, 1917. World War I Pamphlets Collection. Courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
  • H. M. Burton, A Call from the Dardanelles… Melbourne: Defence Department of the Commonwealth, 1915.
  • Charles Baskerville. “At the French Front (drawn in Bénaménil),” March 18, 1918. World War I Scrapbook. Charles Baskerville Papers. Courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
  • Jules Gervais-Courtellemont. Spahis marocains, nouvelle tenue [Moroccan Spahis in Their New Uniforms], 1914. Autochrome photograph.
  • Walter Trier. Karte von Europa im Jahre 1914 [Map of Europe in 1914], 1914.
  • Louis Raemaekers. Het Gekkenhuis (Oud Liedje, Nieuwe Wijs) [The Lunatic Asylum (Old Song, New Tune)]. Amsterdam: Senefelder, 1915.