‘In their footsteps? Anzac fun runs and the consumption of the past’, Honest History, 7 February 2017
The author, a fun runner, describes some Anzac-themed running events and what they say about the current desire of some of us to emotionally consume the past (while sweating a lot), as long as it does not require too much thought. Some of this might be frustrating for academic historians but all is not lost.
This [Anzac-themed exercise] is the past as an article of faith and the object of veneration [says the author]; not as history open to critique and interrogation. And yet, as historians, we should not be too snooty. We can hardly expect members of the public to dash across replicas of No Man’s Land, or run and trek through recreated trenches. If they prefer an emotional engagement to reading academic treatises, that is their choice. What we need to do, as ever, is look for the ways in which people engage with the past, and then work with them on their terms rather than ours.
Anzac-related emotional performance, like fun runs, has long been an interest of Honest History. Martin Crotty mentions Camp Gallipoli, whose chequered career we have followed, and Tour of Duty, previously the Anzac Run. Martin Crotty notes the change of name; it may have been because of issues with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs regarding use of the word ‘Anzac’, an area where Camp Gallipoli also stumbled.
Three years ago, Honest History did some company research on Tour of Duty. This research is here. Some of the links are dead but the material is published now for the record. Honest History made DVA aware of this research at the time but does not know if the research helped DVA to reverse previous decisions allowing Tour of Duty to use the word ‘Anzac’.