FULL TITLE: The Greek-Australian Unemployed Movement in the 1950s and the Construction of the Migrants’ Rights Discourse
Lecturer: Dr George Vassilacopoulos
In the early 1950s Melbourne’s unemployed migrants formed the Greek Migrants’ Unemployed Committee. They called upon the established community organisations to adopt a principle of mutual aid and in doing so they challenged the conservative community’s reliance on the discourse of philanthropy. Rejecting their positioning as what we have elsewhere termed “the perpetual-foreigners within” the members of the Greek Migrants’ Unemployed Committee headed a community wide campaign for the rights of unemployed migrant workers.
In this seminar we will outline the process leading to the formation of the committee. We will argue that the historical significance of the committee’s formation rests with its success in leading the organised Greek-Australian communities into the 1960s rights discourse that was to flourish both nationally and internationally.
This discourse not only made possible the articulation of the migrant workers’ employment, welfare, education and communication needs in terms of positive rights to the state’s resources throughout the 1960s but it also framed the migrant and ethnic rights movements of the 1970s.
Dr George Vassilacopoulos is a senior lecturer in the philosophy department at La Trobe university. He’s published a number of books and articles on ancient and modern philosophy. At the moment he is completing a monograph on Plato’s Republic.
Since completing his PhD on Hegel’s philosophical thought, George Vassilacopoulos has developed research interests addressing the continuities and divergences in the thought of European philosophers including Hegel, Heidegger, Derrida, Husserl, Levinas and Castoriadis. The focus of this research is on the meaning and practice of communal gathering, history and otherness. George has also been working on the links between these thinkers and the history of Greek and Christian thought as well as on the role and nature of philosophical thinking in the 21st century. George also collaborates on research in the areas of critical race and whiteness theory and the history of Greek-Australian political activism, multiculturalism and foreigner discourses.
We thank the following donor for making this seminar possible: Greek Democritus Workers League.
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