Honest History was pleased to send happy sixth birthday wishes to The Conversation; it has been a valuable resource for our website. There are other connections also: some articles in The Conversation this week explore themes which are also evident in The Honest History Book, now available in bookstores, to order online, or (from Saturday) as an e-book. (It’s selling very well, by the way.)
- Ary Hoffman looks at how Australia’s animals and plants are changing along with the climate. This is another example of how climate and the environment affects life on Earth. In The Honest History Book, Rebecca Jones of the ANU has a chapter called ‘Fire, droughts and flooding rains: Environmental influences on Australian history’.
- Rebecca Jones’ chapter also includes a description of how the vagaries of climate in South Australia drove settlers from the Flinders Ranges. This week there is a review by Heather L. Robinson of an exhibition at the State Library of South Australia depicting human – Indigenous and settler – interactions with the Flinders Ranges, drawing particularly on the 1930s photographs of Charles Mountford.
- Then, Robert Breunig has an article on the links between immigration and domestic wages and suggests that employment is not affected by immigration as much as we might have expected – essentially, on the basis of myth. Gwenda Tavan’s chapter in The Honest History Book (‘From those who’ve come across the seas: Immigration and multiculturalism’) looks at many facets of how immigrants affect the status quo – and how the prevailing culture is slow to accept immigrants.
- The prevalence of myth is a theme also of Elizabeth Grant and Kristyn Harman’s article on the supposed ‘prison tree’, an ancient boab near Derby in Western Australia. ‘In an area with such high suicide rates, where Aboriginal people are massively over-represented in the prison population, the agency for this sacred site has been removed by colonisation and replaced by a myth.’ That the myth has prevailed says something about the failure of Australians to come properly to grips with the dispossession and colonisation of Indigenous Australians since 1788. This is a theme of Larissa Behrendt’s chapter in The Honest History Book (‘Settlement or invasion? The coloniser’s quandary’).
- Both settler and Indigenous Australians are psychologically affected by inequality, says Nick Haslam, and this will increase as inequality increases. Carmen Lawrence, a psychologist and former premier and minister, looks at aspects of inequality in her chapter of The Honest History Book (‘”Fair go” nation? Egalitarian myth and reality in Australia’). (This week also, new ACTU secretary, Sally McManus, targets inequality and the role of unions in addressing it.)
- Finally, Ben Wellings, one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters, warns about the risks of Australia’s remaining too closely tied to Britain as it goes through a messy and prolonged Brexit. The long and awkward history of Australia’s international relations are covered in chapters of The Honest History Book by Mark McKenna (‘King, queen and country: Will Anzac thwart republicanism?’) and Alison Broinowski (‘Australia’s tug of war: Militarism versus independence’).
29 March 2017