Neumann, Klaus & Gwenda Tavan, ed.: Does history matter?

Neumann, Klaus & Gwenda Tavan, ed.

Does History Matter? Making and Debating Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Policy in Australia and New Zealand, ANU E-Press & Australian and New Zealand School of Government, Canberra, 2009; free download format available

Multiple authors discuss the interplay of history, memory and the past on this area of policy-making. The focus is not particularly crisis management but the ‘normal’ conduct of policy. (Compare with this for crises.) All chapters argue that history matters but Neumann warns against ‘oversimplistic expectations according to which histories are to save us from memories’ (p. 147) He notes also that memories or histories can have a constraining effect on policy options by ‘favouring certain analogies’. There is a popular understanding that Australian (and New Zealand) responses to refugees have been ‘particularly generous and welcoming in the past’. This needs analysis. ‘Historical analogies’, Neumann adds, ‘are sometimes deliberately invoked to provide a narrow, simplistic or misleading view of the past and can be an effective means of propaganda’. (p. 148)

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