Publication: ‘The militarisation of aerial theatre’

My article, 'The militarisation of aerial theatre: air displays and airmindedness in Britain and Australia between the World Wars', is available on Contempory British History's website. It seems like only yesterday that I uploaded the self-archived version -- in fact it was only 5 weeks ago! While the formal and final version of the article won't be available until 2020, thanks to the modern marvel of the internet it's as good as published; the only difference is that this version lacks the volume information and page numbers (referring to a print edition which fewer and fewer people will ever read). For reference, here's the abstract again:

Aerial theatre, the use of aviation spectacle to project images of future warfare, national power and technological prowess, was a key method for creating an airminded public in the early 20th century. The most significant and influential form of aerial theatre in interwar Britain was the Royal Air Force (RAF) Display at Hendon, in which military aircraft put on impressive flying performances before large crowds, including an elaborate set-piece acting out a battle scenario with an imaginary enemy. Hendon was emulated by other air displays in Britain and in Australia, even civilian ones. Indeed, the inability of the much smaller Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to regularly project spectacle on the scale of Hendon across a much larger nation created a gap which civilian aviation organisations then tried to fill. Hendon thus helped to propagate a militarised civilian aerial theatre, and hence airmindedness, in both Britain and Australia.

I presented the initial version of this research at a symposium at Flinders University in honour of Eric Richards, the eminent historian of migration. Sadly, he passed away last week. I only met him briefly, but I know from the responses of his former colleagues and students that he will be missed. Vale.

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