What Have Historians Been Arguing About... the history of Australia

Teaching History feature

By Anna Clark, published 10th October 2023

In 1968, in his Boyer Lectures, the anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner argued that Australia’s sense of its past, its collective memory, had been built on a state of forgetting:

It is a structural matter, a view from a window which has been carefully placed to exclude a whole quadrant of the landscape. What may well have begun as a simple forgetting of other possible views turned under habit and over time into something like a cult of forgetfulness practiced on a national scale. 

Stanner’s lectures have since become a defining moment of the discipline, partly because of the image he captured: for a practice based on documentation, archiving and storytelling, silence is a compelling idea...

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