‘Learning about the truth’
The stolen generations
During the last two decades in Australia, stories about indigenous children being separated from their parents or kin, once only told in Aboriginal communities and scarcely known beyond this domain, have become a historical narrative so widely disseminated that this history is now central to Australian historical consciousness. There is, I contend, nothing inevitable about this metamorphosis: this is not simply a case of ‘the return of the repressed’ or the oppressed, a necessary surfacing of a hitherto silenced or submerged history; instead, it might better be understood as a matter of ‘narrative accrual’ or ‘narrative coalescence’, 2 which has been enabled by a range of discourses during the last two decades or so. In this chapter I will critically evaluate what I will call ‘the stolen generations narrative’, 3 by considering who and what has been involved in the production of its stories; when and where it has been constructed; the reasons why it has been created; how it has been circulated; the ways in which it has changed over time; and the various outcomes of its telling.
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Publication information: Book title: Telling Stories:Indigenous History and Memory in Australia and New Zealand. Contributors: Bain Attwood - Editor, Fiona Magowan - Editor. Publisher: Allen & Unwin. Place of publication: Crows Nest, N.S.W.. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 183.
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