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The seventy-first anniversary of the bombing of Darwin revived debate over the manipulation of public memory. For decades few Australians knew the full story of Japan's startling attack on homeland soil in 1942. Wartime censorship worked swiftly to prevent an aggressive reality from sparking immediate national panic, but a continued suppression of information in post-war years would serve to diminish public memory, rendering the episode largely unknown in Australia's history. This paper explores the influence of wartime public narrative on one woman's reminiscence through the dialectic of remembering and forgetting. Further, it examines the admix of elder-memory decline, and how both individual and public memory-schemas drawn from the war era are distilled to form essential narrative scripts. These scripts in turn become anchorpoints of meaning for a drifting self-identity. With an overarching emphasis on narrative practice in oral history, the paper traces themes, blended scripts, and telling-strategies employed in the negotiation of an identity compromised by fading recollection and official information.


School of Arts

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Journal Article

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