Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History

By Bain Attwood | Go to book overview
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3
POLITICS

During the 1990s, critical histories in Australia increasingly came under attack. By the middle of the decade, the account of the Aboriginal past presented in these had been cast as the principal example of a so-called politically correct history. At the turn of the century, Aboriginal history was subjected to a full-scale 'history war'.


The politicising of Aboriginal history

Unlike historical controversies such as the German historians' dispute (Historikerstreit) in the mid-1980s and the Goldhagen affair in the mid1990s in Europe and elsewhere, in which academics played the leading roles, but like the Enola Gay imbroglio in the United States in the mid1990s, 1 the historical controversy over Aboriginal history has been dominated by public intellectuals, few of whom have any contemporary relationship with the universities. 2 More particularly, it has largely been created by the work of a loosely connected group of public intellectuals who have been called 'Howard intellectuals', since they have promoted and backed Prime Minister John Howard and his Liberal–National Party government. 3 (By contrast, those such as Robert Manne might be called 'Keating intellectuals'.) In the war on Aboriginal history and/or culture, the principal figures across the 1990s and into the 2000s have been Geoffrey Blainey, Ron Brunton, Peter Coleman, Michael Duffy, P.P. McGuinness, Christopher Pearson, Roger Sandall and Keith Windschuttle. Minor roles have been played by Piers Ackerman, Janet Albrechtsen, Andrew Bolt, Frank Devine, Miranda Devine, Gerard Henderson, Peter Ryan, Paul

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