History Wars

Myths of frontier massacres

In October, November and December 2000 Quadrant published the three parts of a long essay by Keith Windschuttle which heralded a new beginning to the writing of Australian history, prepared the way for the first volume in his Fabrication of Aboriginal History series of books, and set in motion what became known as the History Wars.

The myths of frontier massacres in Australian history

"The first part of this essay will demonstrate just how flimsy is the case that the massacre of Aborigines was a defining feature of the European settlement of Australia. The second part will examine the estimates by historians of the total number of Aborigines killed and show that some of the key assumptions upon which these calculations have been made are either unfounded or invented. The third part will discuss the motives behind the long tradition in Australia — a tradition begun by missionaries in the early nineteenth century and perpetuated by academics in the late twentieth — of the invention of massacre stories."

Part I: "The invention of massacre stories", Quadrant, October 2000 here…

Part II: "The fabrication of the Aboriginal death toll", Quadrant, November 2000 here…

Part III: "Massacre stories and the policy of separatism", Quadrant,
December 2000 here…

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