What's wrong with ANZAC?

What's wrong with ANZAC?

21 Apr 2010

Ideas from contentious new book part of La Trobe University nationalism forum

Rising Sun‘Brave and controversial’ are just two of the words used to describe a new book, 'What's Wrong With Anzac? The Militarisation of Australian History'.

The book is co-authored by La Trobe University’s Professor Marilyn Lake and the University of Tasmania’s Professor Henry Reynolds. Two of Australia’s leading historians, they are joint winners of last year’s Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

Published in the lead up to ANZAC Day, the new book is receiving widespread exposure, in the media, at literary events and book launches.

This Thursday, 22 April (from 12.30 to 2pm) Professor Lake will discuss the book in the wider context of: AUSTRALIAN NATIONALISM - IS IT A PROBLEM?

The public event is part of La Trobe University ‘Ideas and Society Program’.  It is being held in the Union Hall, on the University’s main Melbourne campus at Bundoora.

'What's Wrong With Anzac?' questions the key premise of the Anzac legend: ‘that nations and men are made in war. It is an idea that had currency a hundred years ago. Is it not now time for Australia to cast it aside?’  ask the authors.

In their epilogue to the book, they say: ‘With Australians positioned as either for or against the Anzacs, the digger has once again become a divisive figure as much as a unifying one.

‘Like the many Australians who are concerned with the homage paid to the Anzac spirit and associated militarisation of our history, we are concerned about the ways in which history is used to define and distort our national heritage and national values.

‘We suggest that Australians might look to alternative national traditions that gave pride of place to equality of opportunity and the pursuit of social justice: the ideals of a living wage and decent working conditions, the long struggle for sexual and racial equality.

‘In the myth of Anzac, military achievements are exalted above civilian ones; events overseas are given priority over Australian developments; slow and patient nation-building is eclipsed by the bloody drama of battle; action is exalted above contemplation.'

THURSDAY’S NATIONALISM DEBATE at La Trobe University will be chaired by ABC Radio National Late Night Live presenter, Phillip Adams, for later broadcast on his LNL program. The full list of speakers is:

• RAIMOND GAITA |Professor of Philosophy | King’s College, London | Author, ‘Romulus My Father’ and ‘A Common Humanity’

• MARILYN LAKE |Professor of History | La Trobe University | Co-editor ‘What's Wrong With Anzac? The Militarisation of Australian History’; Co-author, ‘Drawing the Global Colour Line’ and ‘Creating A Nation’

• ANDREW MARKUS |Professor, Jewish Civilisation| Monash University |Author, ‘Race: John Howard and the Remaking of Australia’

• GHASSAN HAGE |Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory | University of Melbourne Author, ‘White Nation’

Professor Marilyn Lake, Tel: 03 9479 1610 / 2430,

Email: m.lake@latrobe.edu.au  or

Ernest Raetz, Tel: 03 9479 2315,  Mob: 041 226 1919




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