Melissa Afentoulis

‘Migration from Limnos to Australia: Re-discovering Identity, Belonging and “Home”‘ (PhD in History, 2019).

This 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. 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.

The thesis draws on original and extensive interviews and uses 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 reconnection 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.

Supervisors: Professor Joy Damousi, Associate Sara Wills