Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History

By Bain Attwood | Go to book overview
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7
CULTURE

Keith Windschuttle's work, as we noted earlier, owes much to the culture wars American new conservatives began in the 1980s and which their Australian counterparts commenced some time later. In this war on the cultures of other peoples, they rely principally on historical theories that have long been deployed to justify colonialism. These have been especially important in the current context, in which settler societies have been confronted once again with the historical truth that they dispossessed and destroyed aboriginal peoples. This has proven very difficult in the Australian context. For a long time now, settlers here have lacked a story to explain satisfactorily why the land became the property of the newcomers, why another people and their culture largely ceased to continue, and how this revolution occurred.


'The ccoouurrssee of history'

Representations of the relationship between European colonisers and aboriginal peoples have long been shaped by theoretical discourses that are inherently historical or historicist in nature. The disciplines we know as history, anthropology and archaeology largely emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the context of the encounter between Europe and other peoples—which is to say people Europeans regarded as 'other'. As noted earlier, these disciplines insisted upon a particular understanding of time or human history. This was conceived as the reason for the fundamental differences Europeans perceived between themselves and other peoples. The former constructed their culture as modern and

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