Black people of australia

Added: Jasmin Swinney - Date: 28.01.2022 22:17 - Views: 13086 - Clicks: 1937

Major Issues Summary. The wearing of black armbands is a custom which originated in Ancient Egypt and came to the West through Republican Rome. The expression 'black armband view of history' has been used to describe a brand of Australian history which its critics argue 'represents a swing of the pendulum from a position that had been too favourable, too self congratulatory', to an opposite extreme that is even more unreal and decidedly jaundiced. Not only, it is said, does the black armband view belittle past achievements, it also encourages a 'guilt industry' and impedes rational thinking on current problems.

From this perspective, the black armband view of history is a strand of 'political correctness'-the dominant but erroneous view of how we see ourselves and what we see as worthwhile in our culture. For others, the term is inherently political and a misrepresentation of the work of many serious historians. It is an attempt to appropriate an established symbol of genuine grieving, loss and injustice by those who do not accept, or do not want to accept, that past wrongs must be fully recognised before present problems can be resolved.

Black people of australia

Both sides accuse each other of attempting to distort history and of taking an extreme view. Since the Bicentenary inand with greater intensity since the High Court's decisions in Mabo and Wikcompeting attempts to explain Australia's past have been swept up in the rhetoric of Australian politics. Contrary to popular perception, this is a debate which has close parallels overseas. In many respects Australia is only now addressing issues related to its national identity which have surfaced in most post industrial societies.

In Australia, the debate over how we see our past, has unsurprisingly centred on the past treatment of the Aboriginal people. In an earlier period, the black armband was a symbol of both black protest and grieving. From ownership of the term has been contested reflecting a parallel contest over 'historical truth'. The use of the term by Prime Minister John Howard has given the debate an added dimension and greater import. What has emerged is a degree of incoherence in public discourse. Leading historians such as the late Professor Manning Clark and Professor Geoffrey Blainey have become strongly identified with the partisan politics of the liberal left and the radical right respectively.

The writings of those two and other historians have been drawn on by the political protagonists, so it is useful to know what those commentators have said, how they have influenced the language of politics, and, just as importantly, when they have not. One of the striking features of the debate is the degree to which the protagonists at times misrepresent the claims of their opponents. Presently, we seem to have a situation in which one side alleges that the other has no pride in Australia's history, and the other alleges that its opponents want to censor Australian history and deny the truth about the history of Aboriginal dispossession and the White Australia policy.

Yet a close reading of the arguments presented, suggests that neither side is saying precisely what its opponents claim that it is saying. On balance, the statements of the Prime Minister, although critical of a perceived 'black armband view', have been more consistent and closer to the middle ground than the more recent remarks of some like-minded commentators.

A close reading of the arguments outlined in this paper indicates that neither side is saying what the other side claims it is saying. John Howard and Geoffrey Blainey are not seeking to whitewash Australian history, just as Don Watson and Manning Clark were not seeking to denigrate Australian achievement. The argument is not about content-it is about emphasis. It is not so much concerned with the nature of history as it is with the use of history. As a people, we are trying to come to terms with the fact that 'Australian' history is no longer written purely from the perspective of the majority.

In a spirit of reconciliation, some Aboriginal leaders such as Noel Pearson have also sought to find common ground by emphasising 'the complexity of the past' and the value of some transplanted colonial institutions such as perhaps somewhat pointedly the common law. Since the occasion of the Bicentenary inAustralian history has gained increasing prominence in public debate. At a time when the traditional discipline of history is in decline in schools and universities, parliaments and media outlets have elevated history to an issue of national importance.

Some historians have even become national figures. Particular views concerning Australian history have also played a pivotal role in the formulation of the political philosophies of all parties over the last decade.

At issue is the use and representation of our nation's past. InProfessor Geoffrey Blainey was the first to refer to the 'black armband view of history' as one which represented the 'swing of the pendulum from a position that had been too favourable to an opposite extreme that is decidedly jaundiced' and 'gloomy'.

Blainey's interpretation has been influential in determining the position of the Howard government on Australian history-just as Manning Clark's reading had ly guided the Keating government's initiative to recast Australian identity. For Australians, it is important to remember that the political debate which circles the black armband label is not a uniquely domestic phenomenon. Similar patterns of debate can be discerned in Britain, the United States and Western Europe since the s.

An important feature of the popular appeal of both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan was their ability to conscript a particular view of history to foster pride in national identity, and the subsequent identification of this pride with their respective political parties. We are witnessing a deliberate attack on our values, a deliberate attack on those who wish to promote merit and excellence, a deliberate attack on our heritage and our past.

Black people of australia

And there are those who gnaw away at our national self-respect, rewriting [our] history as centuries of unrelieved doom, oppression and failure-as days of hopelessness, not days of hope'. Although comparative analysis lies outside the scope of this paper, it is worth keeping in mind that Australian history has been subject to pressures and trends found in other post-industrial societies. The so called 'crisis in history'-a fragmentation of the grand narrative, and the sudden priority given to history in political rhetoric, is directly related to the emergence of the new 'critical' histories.

These histories are the histories which emerged in the s and s- the histories of indigenous peoples which have documented the dispossession, exclusion and marginalisation of the American Indians, Australian Aborigines, and of all colonised peoples. In addition, there are the histories which have underwritten the new social movements-women's history, environmental history and ethnic histories.

The writing of 'critical history' has had a political impact in many liberal democratic societies. In Australia, the 'critical history' which has had the greatest impact is the new approach to Aboriginal history. Writing inJ. La Nauze observed that Aboriginal Australians had appeared in Australian history only as a 'melancholy anthropological footnote'. The work of W. Stanner, C. Coombs, Henry Reynolds, Andrew Markus, Anne McGrath and Bain Attwood among others, has produced a fundamental shift in the way in which Australian history has been 'contested' over the last decade.

This is especially so since the handing down of the High Court's Mabo and Wik decisions, both of which made use of recent historical scholarship on contact history. In a manner not dissimilar to the ongoing debates in Germany and Japan, the issues of 'guilt', 'responsibility' and the 'Great Forgetting', today permeate much of the public discussion surrounding Australian history.

As far back as Henry Parkes quipped in the NSW Parliament that the government should not organise centenary celebrations for the Aborigines because it would only remind them that they had been robbed. While there has been much discussion of 'black armband history' since the change of government in Marchthere is still no comprehensive coverage of the debate, nor is there any substantial research published on the origins of the term 'black armband'.

This paper attempts to redress the imbalance-primarily by concentrating on assembling the arguments associated with the debate.

Black people of australia

It makes no attempt to provide analysis of this sensitive issue. This approach will hopefully help readers to draw their own conclusions. The paper is divided into three broad -the formulation of each category being guided by a question. First, what is the origin of the phrase 'black armband' history? Does the sense of the term predate Professor Blainey's use in ?

Black people of australia

In this section of the paper, I will detail the use of black armbands in the Aboriginal protest movement as far back as I will then discuss the debate over Australian history which characterised the years immediately preceding the Bicentenary in Finally, I will present the Keating government's statements pertaining to the representation of Australian history. Second, in the period following the change of government inwho are the main players in the debate, what have they said, and in what context has it been said? Here, I will collect the relevant statements of three groups-historians, politicians, and public intellectuals.

Finally, the paper will conclude with a brief overview which attempts to identify the broad themes and recurring elements in the debate as well as the common ground which exists between the protagonists. I should emphasise that my intention in this paper is to present evidence in an impartial manner.

The paper also includes substantial notes and a bibliography which will hopefully encourage further reading. My aim is to provide Senators and Members with a valuable and useful resource which will assist in producing a more informed debate. The wearing of black armbands, a custom which originated in Ancient Egypt and came to the West through Republican Rome, bears obvious connotation. In the public display of the black arm band there is mourning, grief, and irretrievable loss.

Applied to history, it paints a bleak view of the past-a history without light and hope. A history of lamentation and even despair. Professor Geoffrey Blainey was the first to coin the phrase 'the black armband view of history' in his Latham lecture. The centrepiece of his argument was as follows.

Black people of australia

To some extent my generation was reared on the Three Cheers view of history. This patriotic view of our past had a long run. It saw Australian history as largely a success. While the convict era was a source of shame or unease, nearly everything that came after was believed to be pretty good. There is a rival view, which I call the Black Armband view of history. In recent years it has assailed the optimistic view of history.

Black people of australia

email: [email protected] - phone:(807) 559-2185 x 6562

Boundaries of Belonging: Theorizing Black African Migrant Experiences in Australia