The Making of Greek-Australian Citizenship: from Heteronomous to Autonomous Political Communities

Toula Nicolacopoulos, George Vassilacopoulos


An analysis that aspires to understand the organised presence of Greek migrants inAustralia would do well to begin from the rather obvious, but often overlooked, fact thatthe Greek-Australian communities are, and have been, an integral part of the socialinstitution of Australian society. This is not to insist merely that Australians of Greekorigin have made significant contributions to social life, whether economic, cultural orpolitical, but to acknowledge that the study of our distinctive forms of collectiveorganisation and the ways of living that these forms have made possible have somethingimportant to tell us about Australianhistory and wider questions of national significance.In our view, the link between the organisational development of the Greek-Australiancommunities and wider white Australian society is such that a study of the former’spositioning as an inside-outsider of the latter provides us with a vantage point from whichAustralian society might look deeper into its own self, rather than merely beyond itself toits other, as is typically assumed in relation to the migrant position. Indeed, we want toargue in this paper that this is precisely the historical significance of the foreignerposition that was assigned to and taken up by the Greek immigrant communities ofMelbourne and Sydney in the first half of the 20th century.

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