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Insiders, Outsiders, and Shared Stories

Australian Historical Studies , Volume 39 (3): 373-380 – Sep 1, 2008


© 2008 Informa plc
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Insiders, Outsiders, and Shared Stories


Being Australian: Narratives of National Identity . By Catriona Elder. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2007. Pp. x + 390. A$45.00 paper. Australian Pastoral: The Making of a White Landscape . By Jeanette Hoorn. Fremantle: Fremantle Press, 2007. Pp. 303. A$29.95 paper. The Australians: Insiders and Outsiders on the National Character since 1770 . By John Hirst. Melbourne: Black Inc., 2007. Pp. viii + 211. A$29.95 paper. In the same lecture in which he proposed the term 'black armband' history, Geoffrey Blainey suggested the image of a pendulum swinging between two extreme views of Australian history. The implication seemed to be that the pendulum might ultimately find equilibrium in a more moderate appreciation of the past. 1 The proceeding 'history wars', on the other hand, have seen a struggle between competing versions of the nation's past. If these 'history wars' have taught us anything, it is that multiple conceptions of the past not only compete, but must ultimately negotiate and to some extent accommodate each other. There will be no victorious and no vanquished story of the Australian past. Others have already proposed ways by which multiple stories might exist alongside each other. 2 The key to 'sharing histories'
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