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

Jim McKay


Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

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