The Ship Goes Both Ways: Cross-cultural Writing by Joy Damousi, Antigone Kefala, Eleni Nickas and Beverley Farmer


  • Shé M. Hawke Hawke


The focus of this paper is writerly and academic women primarily from the Greek/Australian Diaspora, who relate experiences of love, loss, grief and ‘outside belonging’ in their academic and writerly work. The diasporic/transnational expe riences of Greek migrant women, provides fertile writing ground for people making the ‘new world’ of Australia home. This Australia, is a land already disturbed and haunted by a hostile tale of settlement, where its indigenous culture remains insufficiently valued and understood, let alone the habits and practices, grief ’s and longings of migrants and refugees. In contrast to Pierre Bourdieu’s fixed and stable notion of habitus, field and agency, Cultural theorist Elspeth Probyn talks about an ‘outside belonging’ felt by people who move between social, cultural, and geographic worlds. Australia is a land filled, it seems, with people located from, ‘outside belonging’, reconsidered here through writerly transnational exchange between Greece and Australia. With specific diegetic intention, this paper charts the journeys of these writers through the metaphor of a ship that goes both ways. Helen Nickas’ anthology 

Mother’s from the Edge (2006) narrates, through allegory, humour and grief, the experiences of Greek migrant women who have travelled to the ‘new world’ of Australia. Her more recent autobiography Athina and her Daughters: a memoir of two worlds (2009), unpacks this territory with intimate and historical detail. Beverley Farmer travels in the opposite direction to the new ‘old world’ of Greece. Her early writing as with Charmian Clift who precedes her, is doused in the harrowing, peppered with wit and metaphor, loss and longing, as she culturally navigate a foreign land. Such writing produces a textual and cultural richness that I argue could be better represented and dispersed in contemporary Australian literary (and cultural) studies.