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Dr Stephen Bowman examines the relationship between Scotland and the United States in the interwar period, discovering a shared experience of anxiety and social dislocation that was shaped by the historical connection between the two countries
The official opening of the League of Nations in 1920. The decision of the United States not to join the League was a source of tension between Britain and America
President Warren Harding. His presidency marked the beginning of the conservative republican ascendancy of the 1920s, the policies of which were characteristic of postwar anxiety

The First World War was an event of international significance. Such a statement seems too obvious to be worth making: it was a conflict between the main European nations involving soldiers drawn from across their colonial territories, but which also ultimately drew in other parts of the world, including the United States of America. In spite of this, the British popular imagination seems hard-wired to view the years 1914 to 1918 through poppytinted spectacles and with an allconsuming focus on the trenches of the western front. Like the war itself, however, the aftermath of the conflict is best understood with reference to experiences in, and connections between, different parts of the world. This article will therefore show how the history of the immediate post-war years in Scotland must also take into account developments elsewhere, in this case the US.

Thinking transnationally

One way of taking a more expansive approach to studying and remembering the First World War and its aftermath is to think about the conflict in a ‘transnational’ way. According to Akira Iriye and Piere- Yves Saunier, taking a transnational approach to the study of the past involves looking at the ‘people, ideas, products, processes and patterns that operate over, across, through, beyond, above, under, or in-between polities and societies.’ In other words, it is necessary to become sensitive to the ways in which people in different parts of the world were linked in the historical past. Often what happened in the past is best understood and explained in this transnational way. This is certainly true of events in Scotland, elsewhere in Britain and Europe, and in the USA in the period immediately following the end of the Great War.

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About History Scotland

After the Great War: Rebuilding a nation Five great reasons to read History Scotland this month * New research on what life was like between the World Wars * Exploring the link between crime and military service * Special report on underwater archaeology at the German High Seas fleet scuttle site in Orkney * The women registrars who broke into an all-male profession * A new study of the controverial marriage of Queen Victoria's daughter Louise BONUS DIGITAL-ONLY CONTENT: Video report on a forgotten treasure trove of Victorian photos Exhibition preview: Russia, Royalty and the Romanovs Video: living history food & drink experience