Tales of glory boxes, suitcases and dreams: An investigation of cultural and social changes in the dowry practices of Greek and Italian post-war migrants in South Australia


  • Maria Palakgtsoglou Flinders University
  • Daniela Cosmini-Rose Flinders University
  • Diana Glenn Flinders University
  • Eric Bouvet Flinders University



In traditional societies the dowry was seen as the principal material representation of a bride’s worth and of the patrimony of her family. Dowry and virtue were the most important ‘commodities’ sought by prospective grooms in the selection of a bride. This paper aims to explore material culture that relates to the practice of the dowry and the glory box (trousseau; Ital: corredo; Greek: ttqolxlcx}) among Italian and Greek migrants who settled in South Australia in the post-Second World War period, representing the largest non-Anglo post-war migration cohort in South Australia. This study seeks to investigate the meaning and symbolic significance of the dowry and the glory box, as well as examining the cultural practices of each cohort in relation to dowries. The study considers cultural practices, and also aims to situate the discussion within the wider literature of post-Second World War Italian and Greek migration to Australia. It will provide a focus on women’s migration to Australia, and will look at the use of migrant belongings and objects within these disciplines. Data informing this study is drawn from sources such as in-depth interviews with migrants, archival materials, newspaper and magazine articles. This study is part of a larger investigation: the Migrants’ Belongings Project, which explores what motivates the choice of particular objects that constitute these cultural practices; how the chosen objects function as markers of identities, values and rituals; and how the meaning of these objects have changed over time as a result of migration.