Culture catcher: 18

Berlin Oktoberfest. When Australian academics fly to Berlin (we pay) for a one day “seminar” this is how they fill in their day:

The Australian “History Wars” Revisited

Conference timetable

A Retrospective Symposium at the Free University of Berlin, Tuesday 6 October 2009

Venue: Humboldt Room, Harnack-Haus, Ihnestr. 16-20, 14195 Berlin (Dahlem), Germany

10:00 Prof. Russ West-Pavlov (Free University of Berlin): Welcome and Introduction 

10:30 Prof. Bain Attwood (Monash University, Melbourne): “Democracy and the Australian History Wars” 

11:30 Coffee break (Foyer, Humboldt-Room) 

12:00 Dr. James Boyce (University of Tasmania, Hobart): “National Narratives and Local Impacts: How Australia’s History wars impacted on Tasmania” 

13:00 Lunch break (Aux Délices normands, Ihnestrasse 29, Dahlem) 

14:30 Prof. Stephen Muecke (University of New South Wales, Sydney): “Don McLeod’s Mob: The Formation of an Alliance” 

15:30 Coffee break (Foyer, Humboldt-Room) 

16:00 Assoc. Prof. Kim Scott (Curtin University of Technology, Perth): “Apologies, Agency and Resilience" 

17:00 Concluding Panel Discussion. Moderation: Assoc. Prof. Stuart Ward (University College Dublin/University of Copenhagen) 

17:30 Drinks (Luisa, Königin-Luise-Strasse 44, Dahlem-Dorf) 

19:00 Dinner (Restaurant Piaggio, Königin-Luise-Strasse 40, Dahlem-Dorf)

The History Wars of the 1990s in Australia have been variously interpreted in the broader social context as a symptom of a return to conservative values and as part of a complex of other issues in the area of policing, immigration and asylum politics.

At the more immediate level of intellectual debate, they have been seen as a trench war between rigidly polarized positions and as a rehashing of debates that had already been resolved within the discipline of historiography.

Did the History Wars have longer-term repercussions upon debates in the public sphere, decision-making at the level of policy, the ways in which academic disciplines or the creative arts interact with the public sphere?

What directions have the historical and interpretative humanities disciplines taken as a result of or despite the History wars? Do specific disciplinary positioning inflect the ways in which the History Wars are assessed now, or the effects they have had upon public discourse?

How do the various standpoints of indigenous, Anglo-Australian, immigrant or overseas commentators contrast with one another in the wake of the History Wars?

Has the recent change of government evinced a turn away from or a continuity in the conservative discourses which underpinned much of the rhetoric of the History Wars? How did the Rudd Apology deal with moot questions of genocide, dispossession or sovereignty?

And finally have the History Wars had a long-term positive or deleterious effect upon the process of reconciliation between indigenous and immigrant Australians, and upon the nation’s confrontation with its own genocidal past?

No registration fees! All welcome! BUT please send us a brief e-mail indicating your participation:

Russell West-Pavlov,  Professor of Postcolonial Literatures, FU Berlin

AND Reading by Kim Scott, Australian Embassy, Wallstrasse 76-79, Berlin-Mitte, 8 October 2009, 19:00!! 

See also Mervyn Bendle on The History Wars and the Holocaust 

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