History at war

In exploring Indigenous history you may come across the idea of history wars. This is where history becomes a source of major public debate. Differences between historians become amplified and charged with political meaning. These wars can be particularly intense where the founding stories of countries are questioned.

In Australia, history wars have seen historians argue about the degree of violence that was inflicted on the Indigenous population during the course of British settlement. In Is History Fiction? (2006), John Docker and Ann Curthoys explained how history wars work:

In these debates, nationalist historians seek to justify and praise the nation through a particular version of the past, while revisionist historians aim to question national historical myths through what they see as an honest coming to terms with its darker aspects. These revisionists are then themselves challenged or revised with conservative historians fiercely critiquing historical narratives that suggest, for example, that European settler societies were founded in violence, dispossession, cruelty and trauma for the indigenous inhabitants.


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