Anzac memories revisited

photo-1024x753Anzac Memories Revisited: family history and Australian war remembrance

On 18/4/13 the third Making Public Histories Seminar for 2013 was held at the State Library. In theme with ANZAC Day, Alistair Thomson (Monash University) and Carolyn Holbrook (Melbourne University) discussed the themes surrounding ANZAC remembrance and family history.

Discussing a forthcoming edition of his 1994 study of Anzac memory and mythology, Alistair Thomson returned to his own family war history that he could not write about twenty years ago because of the stigma of war and mental illness.

His latest edition uses newly-released Repatriation files, and questions his earlier account of WW1 veterans’ post-war lives and memories and to think afresh about war and memory.

Placing Alistair Thomson’s study in context, Melbourne University academic Carolyn Holbrook shared with the audience her study of private war histories and explored the value of remembering these histories beyond the lives of veterans themselves. Carolyn examined family practices of collecting, preserving and re-presenting the experiences of soldier-ancestors, and suggested that a century since the war itself, Anzac memories are in a constant state of reinterpretation.

Alistair Thomson is Professor of History at Monash University, School of Philosophical, Historical & International Studies.

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