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Unit 2: Boer War (1899 – 1902)

AIATSIS Education

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As the Frontier Wars continued, the newly forming Australian nation became involved in its first overseas conflict. Indigenous people, who had up until this point been warriors fighting for Country, now had to decide if, instead, they would fight as soldiers on behalf of a country and Empire that was actively in the process of colonising them. Just as the ongoing Frontier Wars were a fight for survival by Indigenous people against the colonists, so was the decision to risk death in a foreign land during the Boer War.

This unit highlights the stories of individuals as they navigated modern warfare and the social, cultural, and political implications of their decisions to fight for country in the Boer War. This unit introduces the theme of choice: what does it mean to ‘choose’ to enlist when there is no other paid employment available to you.

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