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Embodying the Australian Nation and Silencing History


O'Dowd, MF, Embodying the Australian Nation and Silencing History, Arena Journal, 37, (Special Issue) pp. 88-104. ISSN 1320-6567 (2012) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2012 Arena Magazine

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The old adage 'silence speaks louder than words' does not mean that silence is simply a passive absence. As renowned playwright Harold Pinter demonstrated, silence has a power to communicate and dominate. This article explores the endurance of the Great Australian Silence over the history of our colonial past and the continuing colonization of Indigenous people. Despite the introduction of Indigenous Studies and Indigenous History into school and university programs, and despite the heartfelt statements that Australians often use to understand their own history, that understanding remains partial. The desire to engage with this history is problematic. This article argues that the failure of a more embracing history to penetrate, more than partially, into the education system and popular understanding is a product of a particular national imagination embodied in projections of the Australian landscape and the Australian individual. The case is put that a particular way of framing the embodiment of national identity and the land has created an imagining of 'Australianness' that impacts on our capacity to hear and accept the history of Indigenous colonization. It argues that this embodiment, when accepted uncritically, perpetuates not simply a silence but an un-history, a not-telling, a non-acceptance of colonial history post-1788.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Other law, politics and community services
Objective Field:Other law, politics and community services not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:O'Dowd, MF (Dr Mary O'Dowd)
ID Code:84518
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2013-05-16
Last Modified:2017-11-10

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