Looks at a British Library exhibition on Cook and contrasts it with recent Australian announcements about celebrating the 250th anniversary of Cook’s 1770 voyage. Buchan draws this conclusion.
Not long ago, the Australian government dismissed the latest attempt by Indigenous Australians to present their own vision for the future, in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Cook is not the appropriate avatar of Empire to embody this continued denial, but his persistent enrolment as national icon ensures that his legacy will continue to shadow the nation’s future. Would it be too much to ask that, instead of avatar or icon, hero or villain, we begin to see Cook with fresh eyes? We might then begin to see beyond him, beyond the reflection of our wished-for selves, and begin to perceive new possibilities.
Buchan’s long article ranges widely but looks particularly sharply at Cook’s encounters with Indigenous peoples.
Recent Honest History links to Cook-related resources can be found through our Search engine. See particularly John Myrtle’s review of John Molony’s book on Cook’s voyages.