Trauma and the reinvigoration of Anzac: An argument

Christina Twomey


This article argues that changing ideas about trauma and victimhood, which emerged from the 1980s, played an important and insufficiently recognised role in the reinvigoration of Anzac for contemporary times. The recasting of war as horror and trauma that became prominent internationally from the 1970s is shown to have generated new sympathy for war veterans. In Australia, these developments occurred in parallel with feminist protests about rape in war, which complicated the emerging narrative of soldier as victim. A key turning point in the renewal of Anzac emerged in the 1980s, contemporaneous with feminist protests, when male veterans reasserted their symbolic centrality in the Anzac march and claimed victim status for themselves. Ultimately the traumatising effects of war, and sympathy for its victims, have become a central trope in the post-1980s incarnation of Anzac. It is suggested that the empathy this inspires offers a superficial understanding of war’s cost.


Trauma; victimhood; Anzac; Anzac Day; feminist protest


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