Making it Home: Material culture, affect, and the production of locality at US Eighth Air Force bases in the East of England

Hearn, Hattie (2022) Making it Home: Material culture, affect, and the production of locality at US Eighth Air Force bases in the East of England. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Occupied by the United States Army Air Force between 1942 and 1945 as part of the allied strategic bombing campaign, the bases of the Eighth Air Force have left an enduring legacy on the landscape of the East of England. By viewing these airfields as individual assemblages composed of people, places, objects, and temporalities, this thesis will offer new perspectives on the material and social
transformation of militarised spaces into affective places.

Employing multi-disciplinary concepts of affect theory, spectrality, and temporality, I will argue that the bases of the Eighth Air Force have acquired their patina of affect through an intensive process of meaning-making, shaped by the emotional effects of air combat and the strategic need to counter them. The desire to “make it home” – in both senses of the phrase - resulted in the production of distinctive localities and affective economies that reorientated bodies within the entanglement of the air base assemblage. By anchoring personnel in the present through the promotion of esprit de corps and the invocation of ‘home’, base commanders’ occupation with the affective qualities of morale helped orientate airmen to face the anxious affects of an uncertain future as a collective group.

Using the extant material culture of the bases, official wartime documents, diaries, and veteran memoirs, this thesis will show how these affective connections survived the war, sustained through translocal veteran networks, trans-national heritagisation efforts, the affective language of storytelling, and the symbolic significance of ‘the return’ of veterans and their descendants to East Anglia. The final chapter will consider the future of these obsolete military sites and the absent presences that reside in the phantasmic landscape, amid increasing pressure to find new uses for the land. It will explore ways in which affective connections can be captured and the ghosts of the past invoked through heritage placemaking as a process that brings together various technologies of memory.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art History and World Art Studies (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 31 May 2023 13:45
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2024 07:30

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