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Migration from Limnos to Australia: Re-discovering Identity, Belonging and ‘Home’

altMelissa Afentoulis will a present a lecture about the migration from Limnos to Australia, on Thursday 4 April, at the Ithacan Philanthropic Society, as part of the Greek History and Culture Seminars offered by the Greek Community of Melbourne.

“My doctoral dissertation is a case study of migrants coming to Australia in the period 1950s - 1970s, from Limnos (otherwise known as Lemnos), an Aegean island of Greece,” she said.

“The thesis explores intergenerational migration experiences by interrogating emerging themes that arise in the oral histories of three different cohorts. The critical focus is on identity construction and belonging and the dynamics of return visits to the ancestral homeland.

“Specifically, the thesis explores the pattern of return visits by descendants of migrants, as a form of identity consolidation among the second-generation and highlights the fluidity and dynamism of identity creation and transformation.

“I draw on original and extensive interviews conducted for this thesis and use references from various disciplines to focus on the framing of personal experiences and cross-generational themes including the significance and meaning of ‘home’ and ancestral roots.’

These are considered in the context “of evolving transnational relationships and the re-connection to those who have remained on the island”.

As the first scholarly research project about migration from this island, the thesis provides a unique exploration of multi-dimensional themes that connect ‘those who have left and those who stayed’ and thus fills a distinct gap in Greek-Limnian migrant historiography.

Born on the island of Limnos, Greece, Melissa Afentoulis arrived in Australia in 1963, with her mother and brother to be reunited with her father who had migrated in 1955. She recently completed a history doctoral dissertation at the University of Melbourne and will be officially graduating as Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in April, 2019.

Melissa returned to study at Melbourne University several times since the 1970s and holds a BA(Honours), BSW, Grad. Dip. In Public Policy and Master of Public Policy and Management. She has a distinctive and diverse career in public policy, research, and service management in family and children’s services, women’s health, migrant settlement and refugee advocacy. Her current research interest is migration history, cultural identity and belonging and its formation inter-generationally and transnationally in the diaspora.

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