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In this article we use a module from the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2007 to analyse how particular events in history resonate with Australians. We emphasize three significant findings: (1) evidence of a strong level of attachment to the world wars and an equivalent significance given to the terrorist events of 9/11 and the 2002 Bali bombings, with far less importance given to other event types; (2) a surprisingly weak correlation between the experience of events in adolescence and the assigning of historical significance; (3) indication that both closeness to the nation and a strong sense of worldliness is important in explaining attachment to the past. Overall the data challenge recent theories of postmodern memory and a range of survey results that supports Mannheim’s cohort theory. Instead, we point to the resilience of historical events to remain culturally significant, particularly through the emergence of a cosmopolitan collective memory.

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Journal Article

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