Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History

By Bain Attwood | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

In recent decades there has been mounting controversy over the past, particularly the pasts of nation states. Rarely has history been the subject of so much discussion. Conventionally, historical conflicts have been confined to small circles, chiefly those of academic historians. This is no longer the case. They have become important far beyond the community of professional historians. Furthermore, these controversies have been characterised by an unusual degree of intensity. At their heart has been a fundamental question: 'What is or ought to be the relationship between what happened in the past and how we interpret and present history in the present?' In many cases, the controversies about the nature of the past have concerned what has come to be called the public memory of nations—that is, the ways in which the national past is remembered, commemorated and celebrated. In short, these are debates about national identity. 1

Australia has been no exception. Indeed, it may well be that settler societies like Australia, South Africa and Canada are now especially prone to such controversy. 2 In Australia, and in similar nation states, much of this controversy has concerned matters of race (such as immigration), but more particularly the historical relationship between the nation's nonaboriginal or settler peoples and aboriginal peoples. This is an especially difficult past to confront, all the more so in the Australian case because of the nature of national history-making in the past. In Australia, the last three or more decades have been punctuated by major debates over land rights, native title, a treaty, the removal of Aboriginal children (the stolen generations) and reconciliation. There has been a struggle over who

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Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Telling the Truth About Aboriginal History *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations vi
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Present 9
  • 1 - Nation 11
  • 2 - Democracy 36
  • 3 - Politics 60
  • Part II - Past 85
  • 4 - Genocide 87
  • 5 - War 106
  • 6 - Law 124
  • 7 - Culture 136
  • Part III - Future 155
  • 8 - History 157
  • 9 - Memory 170
  • 10 - Truth and Recognition 184
  • Acknowledgments 197
  • Notes 198
  • Index 259
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