The Use and Abuse of Australian History

The Use and Abuse of Australian History

The Use and Abuse of Australian History

The Use and Abuse of Australian History

Synopsis

"This collection of engaging and vigorous essays examine what makes the 'history business' tick. Davison demonstrates that Australia's history can be relevant to the issues we confront everyday at the governmental level, at work, and in our communities."

Excerpt

For almost twenty years I have been fortunate to combine my teaching and writing as an academic historian with a range of historical activities outside the university in such fields as historic conservation, family history, museums, cultural tourism, urban planning and national celebrations. I began this work partly as a hobby, partly through a sense of professional obligation. It was fun to work with enthusiasts who loved history for its own sake and satisfying to see history influence public policy. Only gradually did I begin to recognise that it was through these everyday forms of history-making, as much as the work of my academic colleagues, that our discipline was being challenged and transformed.

The following chapters are the fruit of my reflections on the uses of Australian history in these largely non-academic settings. The subjects covered are diverse, even seemingly serendipitous, but they are chosen because they illuminate some abiding concerns. Throughout the book I have sought, not simply to describe what goes on in the history business, but what makes it tick. How is the past being used? What kinds of arguments and images are being deployed? What interests and audiences are being addressed? Who gains and who loses from the uses of the past? And amidst . . .

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