Wadham, Ben: Camouflage and national identity

Wadham, Ben

‘Camouflage and national identity’, Honest History, 22 May 2014

Tropes of sacrifice, duty and honour that mark the birth of a nation are like camouflage that seeks to hide the truth from the viewer. But in this case, even the Australian Defence Force is coming to recognise the ruse.

The article 318 Wadham Nations includes illustrations by Amy Hamilton from a catalogue for an exhibition Camouflage: Unmasking Militarism by Ben Wadham and Amy Hamilton, held in Adelaide in May 2013. The catalogue extends many of the ideas in the article.

Presenting Gallipoli as the birth of a nation, the author believes, camouflages the failure of the campaign and the national divisions during World War I and gives neo-conservatives an ideological trope which ‘naturalises and distorts the national narrative when viewed from a vantage point where masculinity, whiteness and hegemony seem to line up in “a perfect chain of echoic meaning”’. This comes, however, at a time when the Australian Defence Force is trying to get away from traditional ideas of what it means to be a soldier.

The author talks. Also here. Chief of Army makes related points about modern soldiering.

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