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Quarterly Essay 69 Moment of Truth: History and Australia's Future

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207 pages2 hours

Summary

Australia is on the brink of momentous change, but only if its citizens and politicians can come to new terms with the past.

In this inspiring essay, Mark McKenna considers the role of history in making and unmaking the nation. From Captain Cook to the frontier wars, from Australia Day to the Uluru Statement, we are seeing fresh debates and recognitions. McKenna argues that it is time to move beyond the history wars, and that truth-telling about the past will be liberating and healing. This is an urgent essay about a nation’s moment of truth.

“The time for pitting white against black, shame against pride, and one people’s history against another’s, has had its day. After nearly fifty years of deeply divisive debates over the country’s foundation and its legacy for Indigenous Australians, Australia stands at a crossroads – we either make the commonwealth stronger and more complete through an honest reckoning with the past, or we unmake the nation by clinging to triumphant narratives in which the violence inherent in the nation’s foundation is trivialised.” Mark McKenna, Moment of Truth

Mark McKenna is one of Australia’s leading historians. He has written several highly acclaimed books, including From the Edge: Australia’s Lost Histories, An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark and Looking for Blackfellas’ Point: An Australian History of Place. He is professor of history at the University of Sydney.

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