27 March 2003
Women’s views on war with Iraq
The war with Iraq is engendering feelings of anger, dismay and fear among contributors to the Mass-Observation Archive at the University of Sussex.
More than 350 of the voluntary writers from all walks of life are being asked for their views on the current international situation. As the responses arrive, it is evident that the majority feel military action should have been avoided.
"It is clearly a subject that many of our contributors feel strongly about," says Dorothy Sheridan, Head of the University Library's Special Collections archive, who issued the directive. "They are responding to the news as it happens and we're getting a sense of profound anger against Tony Blair."
The Mass-Observation contributors, who are mostly women, are regularly asked to write in response to directives issued by Ms Sheridan on a variety of topics. They have previously given their opinions on the Gulf War and the aftermath of September 11 and were asked both last summer and last December how they felt about the situation with Iraq. The most recent directive was issued when military action began.
The identities of the respondents remain anonymous to researchers. Ms Sheridan believes this encourages the respondents to be open and forthright in their opinions.
Some of the most recent comments gathered include:
"I was born in the first world war, married in the second and shall probably die in the third." (85-year-old woman)
"The only solution to the rogue state problem is a world government and complete disarmament for all, policed by a global force." (53-year-old woman, former CND member)
"As I cycle through the elegant streets of West Colchester, it's difficult to imagine anything disrupting the scene. But I expect other people felt the same during the long hot summer of 1914 and again in 1939."
(33-year-old personal assistant)
Mass-Observation was established in the 1930s as a way of capturing and documenting the lives and views of ordinary people from all over the UK. The diaries and manuscripts cover a wide range of subjects, from the personal to the political, and are an invaluable source for sociologists and cultural historians.
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