Regimes of truth: Australian combat photography in the Second World War

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Abstract

This paper examines the policies and directions framing the professional practice of Australian combat photographers in the Second World War. It argues that while their endeavours to offer an account of the nation at war were constrained by predictable considerations of politics and censorship, their commitment to truth was also framed and constricted by an array of cultural considerations. The nation’s ongoing engagement with the history of the First World War, the contrasting organisational cultures of the bureaucracies that the photographers served, and Australian culture’s visual inarticulacy concerning death on the battlefield played key roles both individually and collectively in shaping the photographers’ practices and outputs. The paper will trace the operations of these influences and contend that, as a result, the photographers’ visual record of the Second World War, particularly as it related to the death of Australian servicemen, served to conceal rather than reveal the ultimate truth about the Australian experience of the war.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-275
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Australian photography
  • combat photography
  • Second World War
  • censorship
  • Norman Bradford Stuckey

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