Embracing “the wrong path”: place-naming and the work yet to do

Smith, Bryan (2019) Embracing “the wrong path”: place-naming and the work yet to do. Professional Educator, 20 (1). pp. 22-23.

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Abstract

Last September, nine year old Harper Neilsen made national news for their refusal to stand for the national anthem. A powerful symbolic act, Neilsen argued that they were protesting against the celebration of violence that often goes unnoticed in the almost habitual recitation of the lyrics. Choosing to protest the celebration of nationalism, veiled as it is by its lyrical and political banality, represents a bold assertion of conviction; the nationalist historical narrative memorialized in the anthem commands a significant amount of sway over the public’s imagination and commitment of, and to, the past. Case in point, the response of critics, notably Senator Pauline Hanson, who made the argument that Neilsen, “is headed down the wrong path” and should be removed from the school (Munro 2018) by asserting their civic and ethical refusal. This tension reminds us of a much broader tension, that is, the continued “history war” wherein two competing visions of the past vie for command of the public’s imagination (Macintyre & Clark 2004). Neilsen and Hanson serve as symbolic stand-ins for what has commonly been seen as the chasm between historical interpretation that catalyses this “war.” On the one side, Neilsen and others sought and seek to illuminate how even the most seemingly banal moments (while anthems are powerful expressions of nationalist sentiment, all too often people passively engage with them) are a reminder of how history has long served to mythologise and confuse exclusions and violence as “progress.” On the other hand, Hanson and others sought and seek to assert a vision of the past that demands complacency and acquiescence; an interpretation of the past that prides itself on its aversiveness to critique.

Item ID: 58792
Item Type: Article (Case Study)
Copyright Information: Copyright: No part of this publication can be used or reproduced in any format without express permission in writing from the Australian College of Educators.
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2019 01:14
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1399 Other Education > 139999 Education not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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