This special issue of Public History Review – 'Places of the Heart: Memorials in Australia' – grew out of a colloquium around an Australian Research Council funded project ‘Places of the Heart: Post 1960 non-war memorials in Australia’. Held by the Australian Centre for Public History at the University of Technology, Sydney in November 2006, the colloquium brought together academics, public historians and professionals working in cultural institutions and agencies. The latter included the City of Sydney, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Environment and Conservation, the NSW Heritage Office, the then National Parks and Wildlife Service, the State Library of NSW and the NSW Premier’s Department. Participants included Associate Professor Paul Ashton, Dr Bronwyn Batten, Professor Rae Frances, Ms Patricia Hale, Dr Bronywn Hanna, Associate Professor Paula Hamilton, Dr Wayne Johnson, Dr Lisa Murray, Professor Peter Read, Professor Bruce Scates, Ms Sharon Veale, Dr Sue-Anne Ware, Mr Alexander Weilsmann and Ms Katie Wislon.
War memorials have captured both the popular imagination for generations and the attention of academic and other observers. Collectively they are a striking feature of the Australian landscape. Non-war memorials have also proliferated, especially in recent decades. But the study of them has been slow to develop. Significant work on these types of memorials – ranging from traditional forms to roadside memorials, public art and graffiti – commenced in the 1980s. The field, however, has not attracted sustained attention. This is reflected in a number of ways including their general absence on official heritage listings which are dominated by memorials to wars and organised religion. Further, most memorial studies provide little historical context to memorials or to how their meanings can change over time. There is more than a history of memorials as objects; there is a history of memory and commemoration and of evolving meaning. These contexts are critical to understanding the cultural significance of memorials. The articles presented in this volume explore these contexts from a range of perspectives.
We would like here to acknowledge Dr Rose Searby's contribution to the publication of this volume.
Paul Ashton and Paula Hamilton
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