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Centenary of ANZAC Day Menzies Lecture

Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre King’s Building Strand Campus
06/05/2015 (18:00-20:00)

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In association with the Monash Alumni Association.

Bruce Scates

The Aftermath of ANZAC: Beyond the Gallipoli Landings


In 2012, a team of researchers based at Monash University offered the 100 Stories project to the Anzac Centenary Board in Canberra - 100 stories to mark the centenary of the Great War.  These narratives were drawn from across the length and breadth of Australia.  They highlighted the experience of women as well as men, recovered the too often forgotten contribution of Indigenous Australians, and emphasised the ongoing cost of war to the community as a whole.  The 100 Stories remembered not just the men and women who lost their lives but also those who returned to Australia, the gassed, the crippled, the insane, all those irreparably damaged by war.  Why did the 100 Stories prove so controversial in Canberra?  Why did some seek to censor the project and substitute ‘confronting’ stories with ‘positive, nation building’ narratives?   And one hundred years on, is Australia prepared to confront the cost of war - or will the Anzac Centenary be more an act of forgetting than remembering?

This paper will consider the fraught politics of commemoration as Australia and the world commemorate the Centenary of the Great War.  It will examine the making and remaking of memorial spaces, the role the ‘memory boom’ had played in generating interest in the Great War, and explore new archives set to change the way we remember 1914-1918.  A hundred years ago, the Gallipoli landings became a story of lost opportunities. Are we losing the opportunity of a more inclusive and genuinely transnational form of commemoration today? 

Professor Bruce Scates FASSA is the Director of the National Centre for Australian Studies.  His many publications include Return to Gallipoli, A New Australia, the Cambridge History of the Shrine of Remembrance and the recently republished Women and the Great War (co authored with Raelene Frances). The last of these won the NSW Premier’s History Award. Professor Scates is the lead author of Anzac Journeys (also published by Cambridge University Press and short listed in the Ernest Scott Prize for 2014) and a contributor Cambridge History of the First World War.  He has also written a novel, On Dangerous Ground, retracing CEW Bean’s steps across Gallipoli.  Described by Tom Kennelly as ‘eloquent and engrossing’, it has been listed on Australia’s first national curriculum for literature, set on university courses in Germany, Turkey and Australia, and awarded special commendation in the Christina Stead Awards.  His forthcoming titles include The One Hundred Stories: A History of the First World War (with Rebecca Wheatley and Laura James) and The Last Battle: A History of Soldier Settlement in Australia (with Melanie Oppenheimer).  He is the lead chief investigator on Australian Research Council funded projects on soldier settlement, World War II pilgrimage and heads an international team exploring the history of Anzac Day. 

Professor Scates is the recipient/ co-recipient of University, State and National Awards for Teaching Excellence and is a frequent contributor to writer’s festivals, history events and diverse public forums.  An advocate of teaching and public engagement, he has led the development of a MOOC (Mass Open Online Courseware) examining the fraught memory of war.

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