A shocking new history? The question of historiography, invasion, and genocide in Nick Brodie’s 'The Vandemonian War'
Taylor, R, A shocking new history? The question of historiography, invasion, and genocide in Nick Brodie's 'The Vandemonian War', Journal of Genocide Research, 20, (3) pp. 451-456. ISSN 1462-3528 (2018) [Refereed Article]
Nick Brodie promises that "everyone" who reads The Vandemonian War "will be shocked". It certainly filled me with surprise and intrigue from the moment I first picked it up. There was the subtitle: "The Secret History of Britain’s Tasmanian Invasion." Secret? I wondered. But historians have retold the story of Tasmania’s colonial settlement since the mid nineteenth century! The blurb offered an explanation that left me no less enquiring: "Governments and others succeeded in burying the real story of the Vandemonian War for nearly two centuries. And historians failed to see through the myths and lies – until now." All historians have failed? How? The preface left me asking more questions: the "truth" of the Vandemonian War – that it was an "orchestrated invasion" and a deliberate genocide – was "discovered" by Brodie reading the records created by the Tasmanian Colonial Secretary’s Office (CSO) in the 1820s and 1830s, only a "tiny fraction" of which have been examined, analysed, or cited by previous historians. An endnote attached to this statement lists those scholars; it is the only place they are named in the book (2, 384). How valid was this claim? The question sent me to my bookshelf. I began scanning the endnotes and bibliographies of books on the list, including those by the most respected scholars of Tasmanian settlement history: James Boyce, Henry Reynolds, Lyndall Ryan. I found they all contained many references to the CSO volumes and detailed explorations of the ideas of invasion and genocide.
genocide, Tasmania, Aboriginal, historiography, Van Demonian War