Other Everests: Commemoration, Memory and Meaning and the British Everest Expedition Centenaries 2021-2024
Research by Dr Jonathan Westaway, Dr Paul Gilchrist and colleagues
Other Everests: Commemoration, Memory and Meaning and the British Everest Expedition Centenaries, 2021-2024 is a research network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The Society is a project partner and participant in the network.
Other Everests is a new interdisciplinary network that takes as its starting point the centenary of the post-war British Everest campaigns of 1921-1924. It will bring together international scholars, archivists, curators, learned and professional societies and the UK mountaineering community to critically assess the legacy of the Everest expeditions and to re-evaluate the symbolic, political and cultural status of Everest in the contemporary world.
Everest became the object of British mountaineering attention after the First World War for a number of reasons. Himalayan mountaineering presented the opportunity to reconstruct a form of heroic masculinity. To 'conquer' Everest would demonstrate British racial vigour and imperial fitness to rule in India. The mass media were avid for stories of heroism and adventure. The mythopoeic disappearance of Mallory and Irvine in 1924 reinforced dominant narratives of ill-fated adventure and the nobility of sacrifice. Enduring archetypes were created that continue to shape the popular understanding of Everest to the present day.
Other Everests will take a once-in-a-100-year opportunity to critically reassess the legacy of Everest and its meaning in contemporary culture and society. It will make its findings widely accessible in an Open-Access collection of critical essays that address key themes highlighted by the network and it will work with our project partners at the Kendal Mountain Festival to develop public lectures and events that translate contemporary scholarship into publicly accessible formats.
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