National identities and war heritage: acceptance and resistance of an authorised heritage discourse among visitors to the Australian War Memorial

Tiina Roppola, David Uzzell, Jan Packer, Roy Ballantyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper examines the convergence of national identities and war heritage, among first-, second- and third-plus-generation Australians. In Australia, interpretation of a First World War event, the Anzac story, is promoted as war heritage central to national identity. What meaning might this discourse have in today’s multicultural Australia? Qualitative interviews were conducted with 93 adult visitors to the Australian War Memorial, 37 of whom had recent migrant backgrounds from 20 countries of origin. The analysis applied ‘authorised heritage discourse’ (AHD) as a theoretical framework. Visitors displayed three different orientations to an AHD that merged war heritage with national identity. The dominant group positively aligned with the war heritage/national identity AHD. In this group, national identity is reinforced by those qualities typically ascribed as being forged out of the ANZAC’s experience. Those consciously aligned critique the mythological status of the Anzac legacy yet embrace it as important for national identities. Those resisting the war heritage/national identity AHD disrupt the often-assumed links between history, heritage and identities. These three orientations appear to be independent of the participants’ country of birth or cultural background, showing the constructed nature of heritage and fluidity of national identities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-390
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2021

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