Beyond the Battlefield: Confronting Anzackery

The term Anzackery, minted by historian Geoffrey Serle in his 1967 Meanjin Quarterly essay, has been prescient in flagging a new era of Australian nationalism. The image of the young, white, adventurous digger offering himself up in the ultimate act of sacrifice, is now deeply entrenched into our psyche.

While all are encouraged to celebrate everything Anzac, embedded into our memories are an exclusive set of stories—our Anzac archetypes don’t run to Indigenous, Islander, Indian, Chinese, or female—unless they were nurses carefully bathing the wounds of the fallen hero—instead they default to the male, the white and the fiercely patriotic.

As we near the half way point in this Anzac centenary, and our love of red poppies wanes, we’re holding an afternoon seminar with Sydney Living Museums to breathe some fresh air back into this space.

You’ll hear about how different organisations and artists are challenging the monotheism of Anzac. Not only have they opened their archives and looked at them with fresh eyes: they have asked the living to talk about the dead in new ways.

Hyperbole ultimately devalues its object. Sentiment prevents us asking important questions about why we fight wars.

You’ll hear Aboriginal perspectives on the Frontier Wars; on what it’s like to build an identity you are not part of; you’ll hear wide-ranging stories from the home front, including the contribution of women to the war effort; and about opposition to the war and the idea of the enemy within.

As David Stephens, Secretary of Honest History, puts it: “Hyperbole ultimately devalues its object. Sentiment prevents us asking important questions about why we fight wars. The Anzac centenary should be marked by vigorous debate. Anzackery is a bubble that needs to be pricked.”

So come along and ‘prick the bubble’ as we explore some of the other stories surrounding our most beatified battlefield.


Book now: Download registration form (Word doc) (342.5 KB)

  • Where: Museum of Sydney
  • When: 2-4.30pm, Friday 21 August 2015
  • Cost: $45 – full price, $35 – Standards participants, students, seniors, volunteers and SLM members

Further information: Jane Gillespie, Professional Development Coordinator,


Speakers include:

  • Lyn Hall, Berrima District Museum
  • Megan Martin, Sydney Living Museums 
  • Meryl Ryan, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery and Yhonnie Scarce, Curator
  • David Stephens, Honest History


To whet your appetite, we recommend:

Previous PostCurator Amelia Barikin in conversation
Next PostFlood!