Bates, Sonja: Anzac Day legend

Bates, Sonja

The Anzac Day legend: its origins, meaning, power and impact on shaping Australia’s identity (Master’s of Peace and Conflict Studies dissertation, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, 2013)

The Anzac legend lies at the centre of Australian identity and in recent years has become a sacred, untouchable element of national pride. In fact, some claim it is beginning to crowd out other significant events and accomplishments of Australian’s past and is distorting our understanding of our history. This dissertation sets out to scrutinise the legend to find out if there is any truth to this claim, what has been overlooked or forgotten and ask whether nations are truly made in war. (abstract)

Looks at the historical context of the Anzac legend, the history of Anzac Day, the darker side of the Anzac legend, the question of whether we are militarising our history, and the centenary of Gallipoli. Has an extensive bibliography and some well-chosen illustrations. Bates concludes:

The main course of our Gallipoli centenary will make for a fine sanguineous dish, best served in the great halls of past kings and queens who sent their loyal subjects to the battlefield as a chess player might sacrifice his rook for glorious victory. We can only hope that when the plates of debauchery are cleaned up, the plastic cups swept up and the stench of cigarettes swimming in the bottom of empty bottles of beer is aired, that Australia will wake up with a bad enough hangover to finally learn how to place the Gallipoli story in the hallway of moderation, reflection and humility.

See also Carolyn Holbrook’s work.



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