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Title: Whose War Was it Anyway?: Some Australian Historians and the Great War
Contributor(s): Bongiorno, Francis Robert (author); Mansfield, Grant Evan (author)
Publication Date: 2008
DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-0542.2007.00500.x
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Abstract: This article will examine a neglected 'front' in Australia's 'History Wars': the debate over the Australian response to the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914. Since the 1980s, several historians have contributed to a body of literature which insists that Australia's vital interests were at stake in the confrontation between Britain and Germany in the Great War, and that Australia participated in order to protect these interests. In short, these historians are united in asserting that the Great War was 'Australia's war' as much as Britain's, and in condemning an alleged radical-nationalist orthodoxy that presents Australia as a victim of the British Empire and the war as none of Australia's business. They also seek to redirect historical attention away from the themes emphasised by social and cultural historians, and towards strategy, diplomacy and high politics. Recently, several conservative newspaper columnists have also taken up their line of argument. This article seeks to explain how and why this somewhat one-sided 'debate' has gathered momentum. While recognising the value of much of the new research generated by these historians, we also suggest that its terms are closely connected with efforts by the political right to defend the legitimacy of the British colonisation of Australia. At this point, the issues at stake in the historiography of Australia's response to the outbreak of the Great War intersect with some of the better-known battles in Australia's 'History Wars', and notably those over the nature and extent of frontier conflict.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: History Compass, 6(1), p. 62-90
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1478-0542
Field of Research (FOR): 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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