submitted by Maria Hill on 30.03.2005
This thesis seeks to fill some of the gaps which exist in the study of the family life of immigrants in Australia. Charles Price writing in 1963 identified this need in Southern Europeans in Australia:
" Indeed the whole matter of southern European family life in Australia, and the extent to which the family customs and loyalty of each particular group survived amongst the second and third generation, requires considerably more research " (1)
Studies that have dealt with migrant family life seem to have concentrated on first generation post-war migrants and their family dislocation. (2) They have not looked at the Greek family in Australia over a long period of time in order to see the changes and continuities that have occurred. If one is to look seriously at concepts such as 'assimilation' or 'integration' or 'cultural change' or whatever label one may choose to attach to the process by which an ethnic group changes and affects change in Australia, (3) one must look at immigrant families over a long period of time. It is totally unrealistic to assume that change can occur within one generation. "Cultural change' is a slow process and cannot occur immediately. In order to examine the extent to which family customs and loyalty' survived and whether cultural change has occurred, the thesis will attempt to examine the Greek family over three generations in Australia.
It will examine the life of the first generation' immigrants: the early settlers who came from mainland Greece and the islands. (4) It will discuss the type of life they led in Australian the early 1900s, 20s, 30s and 40s. It will examine how they settled, organised and survived, married and brought up a family. It will also look at the 'second generation'; the children of the early immigrants, who were born in Australia; and how their upbringing coupled with other influences within Australian society determined the family that was to later emerge.
Finally the 'third generation', consisting of the grandchildren oft he first generation or the children of the second generation, will also be examined to determine what aspects of Greek culture they have retained and the changes that have occurred between the second and third generation.
Although the thesis has focussed on the evolution and change of the Greek family in Australia, it has also sought to document Greek family l: their recreation, ideas about Australia and Australians, to examine exactly what life was like for migrants living in Australia before the second World War to "...capture...the extraordinary untidiness and ambiguity of life, above all the mystery of human personality..." (5) and by so doing make the 'ambiguous' in life intelligible.
Researchers (6) have assumed and commented on the importance of the 'family' and its effect on the course of migration and settlement but have not sought to document it effectively. Suzanne Ziegler after conducting 87 interviews of Italian born young adults living in Toronto commented: "The importance of the family as an emotional support system, while generally assumed, is not well documented, although the emotional centrality of the family in migration is a dominant motif in descriptions given by young Italian immigrants of their experience". (7)
This thesis will seek to display the importance and centrality of the family in the actions and attitude of the first generation immigrants and their children and grandchildren. Although other issues are important in the history of immigrants in Australia, such as social and economic mobility, changes in occupation, political involvement and affiliation, these become subordinate to the importance of the family in the lives of Greek immigrants in Australia. By regarding the family as the unit of analysis one acquires a better under-standing of why first generation immigrants strove desperately for financial security their children for educational advancement and their grandchildren's complacency. "...The strength of family authority, and the prevalence of wider family loyalties had so much to do with chain migration with the choice of occupations with the decision on where to settle".
In particular the thesis will concentrate on a study of pre- war Kytherian and Castellorizan Greeks' their children and grandchildren and will compare and contrast the family life of other these groups of people who settled in Australia during a similar time and in a greater number than the rest of the Greeks who migrated to Australia.
Please click here to read the whole thesis.
The thesis can also be viewed at www.cybernaut.com.au/
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