Alistair Thomson reviews 'Memory and Migration in the Shadow of War: Australia's Greek immigrants after World War II and the Greek Civil War' by Joy Damousi

Alistair Thomson reviews 'Memory and Migration in the Shadow of War: Australia's Greek immigrants after World War II and the Greek Civil War' by Joy Damousi

Memory and Migration in the Shadow of War: Australia's Greek immigrants after World War II and the Greek Civil War

by Joy Damousi

Cambridge University Press $145 hb, 270 pp, 97811107115941

When we talk about the importance of Australia's remembered wartime past, we mostly think of home-front experiences or Australians who went away to fight in overseas wars. Yet more than a quarter of our population was born overseas, and many of their early lives were shaped by war, with migration often a consequence of wartime dislocation or postwar persecution and poverty. The war memories these migrants bring to Australia are not just a vital family heritage; they also impact on Australian society and politics. As Joy Damousi argues in this important book, while Anglo-Australia has been keen to celebrate the legacy of Australian servicemen and women, we have been less willing to acknowledge migrant war stories and their impact. Focusing on the case study of Greek postwar migrant memory of World War II and the Greek Civil War, Damousi highlights a gap in recent Australia war and migration scholarship. The extensive literature about Australian Holocaust survivor memory, Damousi's work, and Nathalie Nguyen's recent books about Vietnamese Australian war memory suggest that this gap may already be closing. Perhaps some migrant communities are more able, or more willing, to talk about their war. Perhaps Australian society prefers to hear some migrant war stories more than others.

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Alistair Thomson

Alistair Thomson

Alistair Thomson is Professor of History at Monash University. His oral history books include Anzac Memories (1994, 2013), Ten Pound Poms (with Jim Hammerton, 2005) Moving Stories: An intimate history of four women across two countries (2011) and Australian Lives: An aural history (with Anisa Puri, forthcoming).

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