Introduction: Diversifying the black diggers' histories
Riseman, Noah. (2015). Introduction: Diversifying the black diggers' histories. Aboriginal History. 39, pp. 137 - 142.
When I started researching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service history in 2004, this was a very niche academic area. David Huggonson did some work in the 1980s and 1990s on the First World War, and Robert Hall's canonical texts 'The Black Diggers' (1989) and 'Fighters from the Fringe' (1995) had set a dominant narrative of the First and Second World War experiences: notwithstanding regulations explicitly prohibiting enlistment of persons 'not substantially of European origin or descent', Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people managed to circumvent the rules and served in both conflicts. For those men and women enlisted in regular units, it was largely an egalitarian experience - often for the first times in their lives - yet they returned home to continuing discrimination. Huggonson estimated about 400 Aboriginal men served in the First World War; Hall estimated approximately 3,000 Aboriginal people and 850 Torres Strait Islanders formally served in the Second World War, not to mention the hundreds more who served in informal, labouring capacities in remote northern Australia. Some local histories enhanced this dominant narrative of participation, including the works of scholars such as Heather Goodall, Kay Saunders and Elizabeth Osborne. Now the estimates have increased to at least 1,000 and 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personnel in the First and Second World Wars respectively. These men and women came from diverse cultural, educational, linguistic, regional and employment backgrounds.
|Keywords||War memorials; Military history; Aboriginal Australians -- Government policy; Race discrimination|
|Journal citation||39, pp. 137 - 142|
|Publisher||Australian National University|
|Page range||137 - 142|
|Research Group||School of Arts|
File Access Level
|Place of publication||Australia|
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