To Honor our Heroes: Analysis of the Obituaries of Australians Killed in Action in WWI and WWII

2020 25th International Conference on Pattern Recognition (ICPR) (2021)
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Obituaries represent a prominent way of expressing the human universal of grief. According to philosophers, obituaries are a ritualized way of evaluating both individuals who have passed away and the communities that helped to shape them. The basic idea is that you can tell what it takes to count as a good person of a particular type in a particular community by seeing how persons of that type are described and celebrated in their obituaries. Obituaries of those killed in conflict, in particular, are rich repositories of communal values, as they reflect the values and virtues that are admired and respected in individuals who are considered to be heroes in their communities. In this paper, we use natural language processing techniques to map the patterns of values and virtues attributed to Australian military personnel who were killed in action during World War I and World War II. Doing so reveals several clusters of values and virtues that tend to be attributed together. In addition, we use named entity recognition and geotagging the track the movements of these soldiers to various theatres of the wars, including North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific.

Author Profiles

Marc Cheong
University of Melbourne
Mark Alfano
Macquarie University


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