Reflections on Anzac Day 2015

anzac-dunlopIt’s been a busy few weeks for academics with an interest in Anzac history and remembrance. Some of my own thoughts are captured in this news piece, ‘The changing narrative of Anzac Day’ for the ARC Research Bulletin. I also led a group of Monash History students (taking our level 3 capstone unit Remembering the Past, and pictured below at the “Weary’ Dunlop statue) to the Dawn Service at the Shrine. After the event we shared a picnic and discussed what had just happened. The students noted how the event was framed and scripted in particular ways (‘Why no welcome to country’; ‘The speeches and the MC were giving us a history lesson, and not a very good one’) yet they also noted how even in such a scripted affair there is space for alternative meaning-making. As Jay Winter remarks, the state (and other commemorative agencies) can’t simply tell us what to remember – or rather, we have to want to believe. Power matters, but so too does resonance – and our students were fairly skeptical about the  whole affair.