‘Second edition of Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial‘, Honest History, 13 June 2017 updated
Update 1 October 2017: the For Country, For Nation exhibition (discussed in the Alternative Guide) closed in Canberra in September 2017 but is to go on tour nationally.
Honest History posted the first edition of the Alternative Guide on Anzac Day 2016; it has been downloaded more than 2000 times since. This second edition includes almost everything that was in the first edition (except where an exhibition has closed) but includes new material, particularly on World War II and later conflicts.
Recently, we have seen the publication of The Honest History Book, which extends many of the themes in the Guide. The book and this new edition of the Guide should be read in conjunction.
The Guide recognises the War Memorial’s aims – and comments occasionally on how well these aims have been met – but it is primarily intended to encourage critical thinking and questioning. Honest History vigorously advocates the ‘contestability’ of history. Contestability is a key concept in the Australian Curriculum: History for Years 7-10 and is at the core of the historiography issues tackled in senior years.
Asking questions is at the heart of historical research. The Guide asks a lot of questions and does not always provide answers. That is for readers to do; sometimes there are no easy answers. The key themes of the Guide are: recognising that there are many ways of ‘reading’ the Memorial; understanding that war history – any history – is complex, despite attempts to simplify it; reaching out for the context of stories, which often are silences, unwitting or deliberate; aiming for honesty, which in the discipline of history means supporting one’s arguments with robust evidence.
The Guide is organised in sections corresponding to parts of the Memorial. Each section of the Guide has links to suggestions for additional reading, most of them on the Honest History website.
We have pitched the Guide at middle to upper level Secondary students, teachers and the general public. Users can print multiple copies; see the copyright note on the final page.