Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History

By Bain Attwood | Go to book overview

1
NATION

Over 30 years ago, an English historian forecast the death of the past. For a long time, J.H. Plumb argued, human beings had drawn on history in various ways, but in contemporary society this was no longer the case:'The strength of the past in all aspects of life is far, far weaker'. He attributed this decline to modernity, which did not seem to need a sense of the past: 'Its intellectual and emotional orientation is towards change rather than conservation, towards exploitation and consumption. The new methods, new processes, new forms of living of scientific and industrial society have no sanction in the past and no roots in it'. In the years since, Plumb's prognosis has been proven both right and wrong. A sense of the past has continued to decline in one way, but it has grown in another. On the one hand, more of the past has become less and less present; on the other, images of the past have become increasingly pervasive in innumerable tangible forms, especially but not only in popular culture. The more the past itself recedes, the more it returns as representation, it seems. This contradictory mixture has characterised historical consciousness for several decades now. 1

The growth in public interest in the past has occurred in many countries. As another English historian, Raphael Samuel, observed, 'history as a mass activity—or at any rate as a pastime—has possibly never had more followers than it does today'. The spectacle of the past, he pointed out, attracts the kind of attention that earlier epochs in modernity attached to the new and the future. Increasingly, film, radio, television and newspapers have demonstrated a predilection for covering historical subjects and monitoring historical debates; commemorations and memorials have

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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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