Mark McKenna, one of Australia’s leading historians, in the latest Quarterly Essay, ‘Moment of Truth: History and Australia’s Future’, reflects that Australia is on the brink of momentous change, but only if its citizens and politicians can come to new terms with the past. Indigenous recognition and a new push for a republic await action.
Judging by the Captain Cook statue controversy though, our debates about the past have never been more fruitless. Is there a way beyond the polarities of the history and culture wars? And in an age of free-floating fears about the global, digital future, is history any longer relevant, let alone equal to the task of grounding the nation?
In this inspiring essay, Mark McKenna considers the legacies of the frontier in Australia’s historical consciousness and its importance to constitutional reform and our future as a nation.
Black Star Morning Focus announcer Greg Reid interviewed Mark McKenna about his new Quarterly essay where he considers the role of history in making and unmaking the nation. He argues that after nearly 50 years of deeply devise debate over the country’s foundation and its legacy for indigenous Australians Australia stands at the crossroads, Australia he says is on the brink of momentous change, but only if its citizens and politicians can come to terms with the past. listen here
This powerful essay places history at the core of the current unrest about national identity. From Captain Cook to the frontier wars, from Australia day to the Uluru Statement, we are seeing fresh debates, recognition and of course, backlash. Presenting some fascinating new thinking and research, Mckenna seeks a way beyond the history wars. He argues that truth telling about the past is essential and will be liberating and healing> The time for pitting white against black, shame against pride, and one peoples history against another’s has had its day. This is an urgent essay about a nations moment of truth. Extract from Media release Quarterly essay 69.