Nine alternative views for Anzac Day – including Lisa Barritt-Eyles on how Lake Macquarie tackled the Frontier Wars

Rather than keep up with the flood of formulaic Anzac Day stories, we collected these few, some of them from our associates, all of them, to varying degrees, coming at ‘the One Day of the Year’ from different angles. (There are also links to a couple of the mainstream stories here, under the sub-heading ‘The Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretonneux’.)

  • David Stephens’ ‘Lest We Forget again’ piece (suggesting Yassmin Abdel-Magied was on the right track last year) is reposted on John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations blog. And on Independent Australia. About not forgetting the Frontier Wars. Related piece.
  • P&I also has Douglas Newton (who wrote a chapter in The Honest History Book) on how Anzac Day has gone from respectful remembrance to a festival of forgetting.
  • Another Honest History Book contributor (and Honest History committee member), Carolyn Holbrook, writes in The Conversation, summarising the ebbs and flows of Anzac over a century.
  • Veteran historian, Henry Reynolds, compares commemoration in New York and Tasmania, and finds the antipodean version anachronistic. (Pearls and Irritations again.)
  • Sue Wareham, president, Medical Association for Prevention of War, and foundation Honest History committee member says (P&I) we need to ‘genuinely honour our war dead by doing the hard yards of learning, rather than selectively remembering’.
  • Robyn Mayes in The Conversation notes the blokiness of the Anzac tradition and reckons women should get more of a show.
  • Paul Daley, writer, Honest History distinguished supporter, and contributor to The Honest History Book, has a piece in Guardian Australia wondering whether, now that we are well past ‘Peak Anzac centenary’, the day can go back to being one of quiet reflection.
  • Nic McLellan in Inside Story reminds us that there were not only Aussies at Gallipoli, not by a bloody long chalk, mate.
  • Finally, Lisa Barritt-Eyles has a thoughtful review in the Journal of Critical Military Studies of a 2015 exhibition at the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery about the Frontier Wars. The title of the article gives a clue to its content: ‘Disrupting cultural amnesia about the Frontier Wars in Australian war remembrance’. The exhibition was more clear-eyed about these events than is the Australian War Memorial, and it is certainly appropriate to bring the contrast to light on a day when most of us focus yet again on the relatively easy, khaki-clad version of remembrance and push aside what happened on our own shores. The full article is behind a pay-wall but if this creates access difficulties for you, get onto us ( and we’ll see what we can manage with the author by way of electronic access to the whole article.

Update 12 noon: and a bonus makes ten: John Menadue on myths and home truths of Anzac.

Update 24 April: regarding a perennial Anzac sideshow, the alleged words of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, commencing ‘Those heroes that shed their blood …’, James Robins reports in Newsroom that Te Papa National Museum in New Zealand is reviewing its approach to the words, taking account of the doubts thrown by the research of Honest History and others. Progress comes in small steps. Over to you, Australian War Memorial.

For the full extent of Honest History and associates’ research, go here.

Update 28 April: and a couple more in Waleed Aly, Scott Stephens and Martin Crotty (UQ) on the ABC and a panel on Crikey.

Update 2 May: and a comprehensive and trenchant analysis from Richard Phillips on the World Socialist Web Site. ‘Today, politicians of every stripe and the corporate media promote Anzac Day with almost quasi-religious fervour.’

David Stephens

25 April 2018 updated

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