Ethnicity and Emotions: Psychic Life in Greek Communities


  • Joy Damousi The University of Melbourne


In December 2006, I was asked to speak at the launch of a photographic exhibi tion of the former migrant camp Bonegilla, which was established in 1947 and closed in1971. The organizers – the Bonegilla Former Resident’s Association –were keen not only to acknowledge the central importance of that site to immi gration history in Australia –of which there can be no doubt –but they also wanted to claim a space of celebration for their experiences in the camp. For these residents the time they spent in Bonegilla was one which produced fond memo ries, positive expe - riences, and enduring friendships and relationships. Bonegilla aroused intense emotions for these former residents; it was a period of adventure, separation, loss and hope. In contrast to less celebratory accounts of the experience of Bonegilla by migrants, this group wished to keep alive a memory which was not darkened by what may have followed in their experiences as migrants in their newly adopted country.