A Critique of the Militarisation of Australian History and Culture Thesis: The Case of Anzac Battlefield Tourism

Jim McKay


This paper analyses the militarisation of Australian history and culture thesis with specific reference to the increasing popularity of Anzac battlefield tourism. I argue that the militarisation thesis contains ontological and epistemological flaws that render it incapable of understanding the multifaceted ways in which Australians experience Anzac battlefield tours. I then argue that in order to study how Australians both at home and overseas respond to the upcoming Anzac Centenary researchers will need to deploy an empirically-grounded and multidisciplinary framework. I demonstrate how proponents of militarisation: (1) ignore the polymorphous properties of Anzac myths; (2) are complicit with constructions of ‘moral panics’ about young Australian tourists; (3) overlook the reflexive capacities of teachers, students and tourists with respect to military history and battlefield tours; and (4) disregard the complex and contradictory aspects of visits to battlefields. My counter-narrative relies both on Stuart Hall’s work on popular culture and empirical studies of battlefield tourism from myriad disciplines.


Anzac, battlefield tourism, military history, mythologies, nationalism, militarisation

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