• Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Exploring the archives: To the Editors of “The Student” May 1924

ByManvir Dobb

Oct 11, 2019

As well as being highly entertaining, this week’s archive requires more thoughtful analysis. In the modern age, the idea of putting up flags to showcase how this university is the “Empire in little” seems nonsensical. It’s as if the writer were trying to boast the riches of the Empire much in the sense of the British Museum: but instead of doing it with looted goods, we will have to make do with flags.

Yet with our postmodern liberalism, is looking back at this archive a chance to give ourselves a pat on the back? To be able to humour such content now is to say that you are part of a world which has moved on from a time of national colonialism.

On the other hand, we must face the dark reality of a past which is recent enough for the repercussions to be directly felt today. This makes you wonder how far we have truly come, as well as what future students will think of our seemingly ‘progressive’ ideas in a hundred years’ time.

Ewart described these flags as a “valuable collection… in years to come”.

Whilst it is easy to scoff at such a comment, if students were to see this collection of flags today most would believe them to show acknowledgement and respect of the different cultural backgrounds of students at this university rather than to boast the human possessions of an empire.

This archive is a reminder that history is viewed through the lens of today, and that the original intention of a structure can come to have a completely different interpretation.

How many sites of history unknown do we pass in a single day, each representing a past we must confront with our present-day morals?


Images featured in The Student’s archives from May 1924

By Manvir Dobb

Editor in Chief

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