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Greek identity in Australia
chapterposted on 31.10.2019, 00:00 by Rebecca FananyRebecca Fanany, M-I Avgoulas
The Greek diaspora community is well-established in Australia. While arrivals from Greece began in the nineteenth century and continued through the twentieth, peak migration occurred in the years following World War II and the Greek Civil War. Today people of Greek background are highly integrated into the mainstream of Australian society and culture. Nonetheless, the characteristics that are most closely associated with cultural identity, specifically the Greek language, membership in the Greek Orthodox Church, and a Greek lifestyle, are still prominent among members and tend to be viewed as extremely important, even by younger individuals. Older members of the community experienced considerable racism and exclusion, but this has now faded, and younger people tend to see themselves as possessing a dual identity as Greek and also fully Australian. As the Australian-born generations come to dominate the Greek community, an increasing shift from Greek to English has been observed, with many younger people lacking the fluency their parents (the transitional generation) usually possess. This, along with an attitude of pride and acceptance of their cultural heritage, is helping to create a new Greek identity that derives not just from individuals’ own experiences in Australia but also from travel to Greece and interaction on the Internet with members of other diaspora communities elsewhere in the world as well as with people in Greece. The result is a conceptualization of Greek identity that is both more transnational in nature but also more characteristically Australian, reflecting the established nature of people of Greek background within the English-speaking Australian mainstream.