Scarred Lands: Interview with Documentary Filmmakers Brings Hidden Costs of War to Light
(Valley Forge, PA—February 1, 2012) A new feature in an open-access journal spotlights a powerful documentary film about the hidden consequences that war has on the natural world. The current edition of the online humanities publication The Journal of Empire Studies presents an in-depth look at Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives: The Environmental Footprint of War, an award-winning documentary by filmmakers Alice and Lincoln Day.
The film captures a wide range of war’s hidden impact on man and nature, from the eradication of 80% of Kuwait’s camel population to the unexploded mines of North Africa and the legacy which the chemical agent dioxin has left in Vietnam. In a passionate and well-researched narrative, the film documents the impact of battle on its “silent casualty,” the natural world. “The scale of environmental damage over the last half century is unprecedented,” according to the documentary. “Falling water tables, shrinking forest cover, declining species diversity – all presage ecosystems in distress.”
“We are lucky to have dedicated scholars like Alice and Lincoln Day,” says the journal’s editor, Tom Durwood, who teaches at Valley Forge Military College. “They push into new academic territory while never leaving a general reader behind. The Days have uncovered important issues for all of us to consider.” The journal feature furthers the effort to make the topic accessible, adding lesson plans that link Scarred Lands to a Robert Frost poem, Mao’s “war on nature,” marine sanctuaries created by sunken battleships, and the current tensions with Iran. “We want teachers to be able to bring this subject matter into their classrooms,” says Durwood. Other journal articles feature topics from literature, architecture, language and sociology.
Science Magazine rates the documentary highly: “The extensive research and skillful presentation by sociologists Alice and Lincoln Day make the film a surprisingly moving experience. Interviews of scientists, war veterans and others are carefully interspersed with footage that makes vivid the long-term damage to the planet that has resulted from military conflicts and activities.” Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives has won the Cine Golden Eagle Award.
Durwood looks forward to hosting a visit by the filmmakers to Valley Forge. “The unintended consequences of war — both good and bad — are fascinating to our students. My cadets always engage with lesson plans on the technology that came out of World War II, for example, or the packs of wild dogs in Vietnam which are the descendants of U.S. canine corps from the late 1960’s. They will certainly engage with the material in this film.”
The Journal of Empire Studies (JES) is a new online journal devoted to the study of empire, east and west, across a number of disciplines—science, literature, technology, commerce and finance, military studies, art, music, linguistics, gender and architecture. As western and eastern schools struggle to bring global perspective to their students, we will actively promote this content to teachers as an ongoing resource, so they can assign our articles or printed anthologies to their classes.
We are seeking collaboration with universities on all continents. We don’t need funding: becoming a sponsor university means you will encourage your faculty to use JES as a classroom resource.