Australian involvement in the First World War
Kings College, W1.09 Somerset House East Wing
12 November 6-8pm
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Anglo-Australian Diplomacy, 1914-19
Professor Carl Bridge (King’s College London). This paper draws on the major Menzies Centre/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade research project on Anglo-Australian relations during the First World War.
Carl Bridge is Professor of Australian History at King’s College London and the Dir4ector of the Menzies Centre between 1997 and 2014. His current research falls into four areas: the history of Australian diplomacy and defence; war and society in twentieth century Australia; Australian historiography; and the history of the British world.
Aboriginal Australians and the First World War
Dr Noah Riseman (Australian Catholic University)
When the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) went off to war, among its ranks were at least 800 Aboriginal men. These men came from all states and territories, where they lived under varying legal regimes and were subject to various forms of de jure and de facto discrimination. Yet they still went off to Europe and the Middle East as part of the British Empire. Those surviving Aboriginal soldiers who returned to Australia hoped for better treatment after the war. They hoped for wider education and employment opportunities, access to land settlement schemes and the removal of restrictive legislation. Their hopes were quashed, and their contributions to the war effort never formed part of the national narrative of Anzac. This presentation provides an overview of the role of Aboriginal soldiers in the First World War and the war’s impact on Indigenous communities. Though many of their experiences in Europe and the Middle East reflected similarities to their non-Indigenous compatriots, their reasons for enlisting, hopes for life after the war and post-war veteran experiences diverged substantially. Within contemporary non-Indigenous Australia there are still enduring silences surrounding Aboriginal participation in the First World War. Some of these silences are difficult to redress in the archives, for the Australian armed forces did not record the racial identity of its constituents. But other reasons for silence run deeper and reflect the prejudices of interwar and even contemporary Australia. This presentation will fill some of the silences surrounding Aboriginal service in the First World War, will analyse the legacies of their service for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and will question the position of Aboriginal diggers in the Anzac legend.
Dr Noah Riseman is Senior Lecturer in History on the Melbourne campus of the Australian Catholic University. His research focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contributions to Australia’s defence. This is now part of two Australian Research Council (ARC) projects: Defending Australia, defending Indigenous rights: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service and Australian identity, 1946-2003 and an ARC Linkage project running through the Australian National University, Serving our country: history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the defence of Australia.