"Celebrating the Anzac spirit": the visual representation and censorship of the Australian soldier

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This chapter investigates the visual representation of the Australian soldier and the continued suppression of Australian war photography since 1915. Using archival research and oral history methodology, it will consider how Australian military censorship affected the press photographers in two ways: logistically and visually. The chapter argues that Australian photographers have always been controlled by particular strategies, embedding, and, later, restricted contact with the military. During both World Wars the military and government censored all photographs from the frontline, and since the 1960s Australian photographers have only been given limited access to Australian soldiers. Consequently, the Australian public rarely saw the searing brutality of war through the lens of the accredited newspaper photographers. This control was partly due to the determination of the authorities to ensure that images of Australian soldiers subscribed to particular political and military values. These ideals were immortalised by the “Anzac legend,” a pivotal narrative in the Australian discourse, which emphasised the soldiers’ “courage, endurance, initiative, discipline, and mateship” (Australian War Memorial), and eschewed military failure and fragility. Consequently, photographs of the Australian dead were not published in of the wounded were usually only published when they were accorded with heroic iconography. Australian newspapers, and images
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Visual Politics of War Volume Two
Subtitle of host publicationTruth and Lies of Soft Power
EditorsIbrahim Saleh, Thomas Knieper
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne UK
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Pages49 - 71
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9781527505445
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameVisual Politics of War
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
ISSN (Print)2514-2542


  • Media history
  • photography
  • Journalism history
  • journalism studies
  • War dead

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