Historians must attend to context. Even as the Coalition government intervened to veto ARC grants for young scholars in the humanities – eleven of the small minority of applications approved through an extensive independent review process – and insists on maintaining funding cuts to our major cultural institutions, including the Australian National Library and National Archives, it offers an astonishing $500 million to the Australian War Memorial so that it might expand exhibitions of the nation’s military history. With its new insistence on research that serves Australia’s security, foreign policy, and strategic national interests (The Age, 11 November 2018), the Coalition government makes explicit its support for the militarisation of our history and culture at the expense of original scholarship of international significance. Border-force mentalities now police the nation’s intellectual work even as they preside over customs, immigration, and the turn-back of asylum seekers.
Marilyn Lake AO DLitt FAHA FASSA is Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Research for her next book, Progressive New World: How settler colonialism and transpacific exchange shaped American reform, forthcoming with Harvard University Press, was supported by an ARC Discovery grant.