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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/46580
- Historylessness: Australia as a settler colonial collective
- Veracini, Lorenzo
- Most cabbies would confirm that 'Australia has little history'. This is remarkable; how can one explain this often repeated trope? While having 'little' history should be understood in the sense that Australia has a short chronology (as dialogically opposed to 'Old Europe', for example), this refrain could also be understood as a way of expressing a perception that Australia is, relatively speaking, an especially 'historyless' society. This article understands a recurring reference to a lack of a 'dense' past as one discursive feature related to a number of specific constraints typical of settler colonial ideological formations. Perceiving a lack of history, a lack of conflict, and a classless circumstance are related. As well as historyless (and despite contradicting evidence) Australia has a long tradition of being routinely represented as an exceptionally egalitarian and classless society (again, as dialogically opposed to 'Old England'). A classless political order would be characterised by a lack of conflict that would in turn produce no history. This article interprets this claim as another discursive feature typical of settler colonial rhetorical traditions. Mythologies about egalitarian societies inhabiting 'quiet' continents, and the reality of underdeveloped historiographies are related to the long lasting resilience of a settler colonial consciousness. The first section of this article outlines an approach to the historical consciousness of settler colonial political traditions; the second section focuses on Australian historiographies.
- Publication type
- Journal article
- Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 10, no. 3 (Sep 2007), pp. 271-285
- Publication year
- Australia; Customs; Equality; Historiography; History; Manners; National characteristics; Pioneer settlement; Postcolonialism
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2007 The Institute of Postcolonial Studies.
- Peer reviewed