The History Wars

How history was presented

The History Wars is an ongoing public debate over how Australia’s history of colonisation and its relationship with the Indigenous population should be interpreted and understood.

The debate’s origin lies in the idea that Australian history has been written and taught in a largely positive light, while ignoring the negative experiences of Indigenous Australians’ after British colonisation began. The idea was proposed by an Australian anthropologist, Professor W.E.H “Bill” Stanner, in 1968. Subsequently, in the 1970s and 1980s, historians such as Henry Reynolds and Manning Clark tried to correct the historical bias by publishing work which highlighted Indigenous Australian history.

In 1993, historian Geoffrey Blainey used the phrase the “black armband” view of history to describe the point of view from which Australia’s history focused mainly on how Indigenous people were unfairly treated, and contrasted it with the “Three Cheers” view, in which Australia’s history after the convict era was described in mostly positive terms. He criticised both perspectives, arguing that they are bot...

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