The Role of the Internet and Digital Technologies in the Struggle for Recognition of the Forgotten Australians
Adkins, Barbara. A and Hancox, Donna and Klaebe, Helen (2011) The Role of the Internet and Digital Technologies in the Struggle for Recognition of the Forgotten Australians. pp. 1-23. In: Proceedings of the A DECADE IN INTERNET TIME: OII SYMPOSIUM ON THE DYNAMICS OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIETY, 21 - 24 September 2011, University of Oxford.
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Our contemporary public sphere has seen the 'emergence of new political rituals, which are concerned with the stains of the past, with self disclosure, and with ways of remembering once taboo and traumatic events' (Misztal, 2005). A recent case of this phenomenon occurred in Australia in 2009 with the apology to the 'Forgotten Australians': a group who suffered abuse and neglect after being removed from their parents – either in Australia or in the UK - and placed in Church and State run institutions in Australia between 1930 and 1970. This campaign for recognition by a profoundly marginalized group coincides with the decade in which the opportunities of Web 2.0 were seen to be diffusing throughout different social groups, and were considered a tool for social inclusion. This paper examines the case of the Forgotten Australians as an opportunity to investigate the role of the internet in cultural trauma and public apology. As such, it adds to recent scholarship on the role of digital web based technologies in commemoration and memorials (Arthur, 2009; Haskins, 2007; Cohen and Willis, 2004), and on digital storytelling in the context of trauma (Klaebe, 2011) by locating their role in a broader and emerging domain of social responsibility and political action (Alexander, 2004).
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