Disputing National Histories: Some Recent Australian Debates

Ann Curthoys

Abstract


National history seems to be a form of history marked by a particularly strong relation between past and present. In the last few decades, the most serious historiographical conflicts, and the ones which have attracted public as well as scholarly attention, have tended to be those where national honour was felt to be at stake. Very often they have concerned either the foundation of the nation, or the national role in war, and sometimes both; think of the example of Japan, Israel, the United States, and Australia, to name just a few. These debates have attracted particular heat because history was seen to have implications not only for specialist historians but also for the morality and future of the nation.


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