The Falklands War at 40: voices of the conflict - Event review and podcast

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Speakers at the BIHG event on the Falklands

Forty years on from the war between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falklands/Malvinas islands, The Centre for War and Diplomacy at Lancaster and the British International History Group co-hosted ‘The Falklands War at 40: Voices of the Conflict’ on Thursday 26 May 2022 which was attended by staff, students, members of local history groups, and the general public.

In April 1982, the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic, were invaded by Argentine troops. In response, Britain mobilised a task force. Over the next ten weeks the two countries waged war across land, air and sea for possession of the islands. Britain emerged victorious in June 1982, although the dispute over the territories remains unresolved and a source of tension in UK-Argentina relations to this day.

Historians, archaeologists and museum curators research the experiences of those who served in the Falklands War by a variety of means – whether interviewing combatants and reading their memoirs, investigating the landscapes in which they fought, or examining the objects they carried with them. While working on such a recent conflict opens up the chance to explore participant perspectives, it also raises challenges, such as renewing memories of the conflict for those suffering from trauma, or how best a museum should present a war that is still the source of political tension.

This event brought together researchers and curators, with Falklands veteran and Lancaster alumnus Major General Chip Chapman, to discuss working with voices of the conflict forty years on.

The event was chaired by Professor Gaynor Johnson. She is Professor of International History at the University of Kent, Conference Officer of the British International History Group and Honorary Researcher at the Centre for War and Diplomacy.

Panellists included:

  • Mr John Beales, a doctoral student at Keele University and Imperial War Museums, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. His research explores the composure of veterans’ narratives and the public memory of the war.
  • Major General Chip Chapman, a platoon commander in 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) in the Falklands campaign. He went on to command 2 PARA and was Senior British Military Advisor to US Central Command. He studied History at Lancaster 1977-1980.
  • Dr Peter Johnston, Head of Collections and Research at the Royal Air Force Museum, responsible for developing the museum’s research and collection strategies, and exhibitions. His own research has also focused on the Falklands campaign.
  • Professor Helen Parr of Keele University, author of Our Boys: The Story of a Paratrooper (Penguin, 2019), a history of the Parachute Regiment in the Falklands. It won the Longman-History Today Book Prize, the Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History, and the Templer Medal Book Prize.
  • Professor Tony Pollard of Glasgow University, a leading archaeologist who has worked on sites of conflict from across history, and is heading a new investigation into the landscape of the Falklands War. He has also worked with veterans revisiting sites of the Falklands conflict.

A recording of the event is now available through 'The War & Diplomacy Podcast: From the Centre for War and Diplomacy at Lancaster University' on all major streaming platforms.