School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    Migration from Limnos to Australia: rediscovering identity, belonging and 'home'
    Afentoulis, Melissa Noula ( 2018)
    Post-World-War Two mass migration had a significant impact on the Greek population and on the nation’s social and economic infrastructure; for small islands such as Limnos (commonly known as Lemnos in the English-speaking world) the consequences were often momentous. During the 1950s-1970s, many Limnian islanders left for Australia, a nation then at the height of its post-war economic recovery. This thesis explores the intergenerational migration experiences of this community by interrogating emerging themes that arise in the oral histories of three different cohorts: the first-generation, or foundational immigrants; the second-generation, or those born in Australian or who arrived as young children; and those who stayed on the island. The critical focus is on identity construction and belonging and the dynamics of return visits to the ancestral homeland. Specifically, the thesis explores an emerging pattern of return visits to the parental homeland since the mid-1990s by descendants of migrants, which I argue is a form of identity consolidation among the second-generation. Drawing on original interviews conducted for this thesis, I outline the history of Limnos, analyse relevant historiography and then focus on the framing of personal experiences and cross-generational themes of belonging, identity, the significance and meaning of ‘home’ and ancestral roots. These are considered in the context of evolving transnational relationships and the re-connection of those who chose to settle in Australia with, those who have remained on the island. As the first scholarly research project about migration from this island community, this thesis provides a unique exploration of multi-dimensional themes that connect ‘those who have left and those who stayed’. It thus fills a distinct gap in Greek-Limnian migrant historiography and adds to the literature on Australian migration and oral history.