21 July 2016

The power of language in historical narratives

Representation -- the images and language we use to describe our social worlds -- matters. "Discovery, settlement or invasion? The power of language in historical narratives" (2016, The Conversation) digs into how the historical relationship between Australia's indigenous peoples and British 'settlers' has been framed, and what this means for contemporary relationships between these groups.
"The University of New South Wales recently found itself in a firestorm for reportedly encouraging students to use the terms “invasion”, “occupation” or “colonisation” when discussing Captain Cook, who had hitherto often been described as “discovering” Australia in the 18th century, as part of the history of British “settlement”."
Going back to Captain Cook, terra nulis, and delving into current and recent land claims issues, this piece is a useful reflection on how and why language matters.