History wars in Germany and Australia: National museums and the relegitimisation of nationhood

Christian Wicke, Ben Wellings

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter examines the political controversies that surrounded the creation of national museums in Germany and Australia. Arguments about the content and raison d’être of these national museums played out within wider debates about the transcendence of nationalism and the future of the nation-state. Both museums became part of political projects that sought to “normalize” or “mainstream” nationhood, by simultaneously depoliticizing nationalism and thereby relegitimizing the nation and its past. By analyzing these debates through the lens of legitimacy, the chapter concludes that these museums were a form of state-sponsored history that sought to relegitimize their respective nations: nations in which critical understandings of the past had the potential to undermine the legitimacy of contemporary nationhood and nationalism.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of State-Sponsored History After 1945
EditorsBerber Bevernage, Nico Wouters
Place of PublicationLondon UK
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781349953066
ISBN (Print)9781349953059
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • History wars
  • Museums
  • Nationalism

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