Aboriginal Military Service and Assimilation

Aboriginal Military Service and Assimilation

Author/s (editor/s):

Noah Riseman

Publication year:


Publication type:

Book chapter

Find this publication at:
the publisher's site

In 1957, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio ran a 30-minute feature entitled ‘The Story of Douglas Grant: The Black Scotsman’. The broadcast narrated the life of Douglas Grant, an Aboriginal man raised in a white Sydney family who served in the First World War. Brian Hungerford reported: ‘It [Grant’s story] means that if you take a newborn baby straight from its mother, you can bring it up to fit into any society at any level. There is no inherent mental or emotional difference between the primitive man and the civilised one’.How Douglas Grant’s life sits as an assimilation narrative and the role of military service in that account is complex. Whereas the ABC and other media reports promoted Grant as a ‘poster-child’ for assimilation, by his death in 1951 the unfulfilled promises of equality left Grant questioning whether Australian society would ever allow Aboriginal people to assimilate.

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