Memory and migration

Narratives of the European diaspora in Australia

Featured in

  • Published 20200804
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-50-4
  • Extent: 304pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

AS PART OF its politics of memory, the European Union has expended considerable effort creating a transnational and unifying narrative of the past. By promoting a shared memory, it hopes to generate a sense of connectedness to ensure a peaceful future. Yet, in spite of numerous resolutions adopted by the European Parliament to unite Europe in its collective remembrance, conflicts, particularly over the memory of the Second World War, continue, and have even intensified. The September 2019 resolution on ‘The importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe’ was enthusiastically greeted by some in Europe as a tribute to all victims of all totalitarian regimes – but fiercely criticised by others as gross ideological propaganda and historical revisionism. While Europe’s multiple pasts and identities cannot be shaped by resolutions or regulations, the development of more pluralistic narratives of the past might be possible and worthwhile.

In our globalised age, is it only within a particular geopolitical space that memories can reconcile – or can Europe’s past be revisited from a distance? Memories are carried beyond states and nations through various channels, often migrating with individuals. Memory that travels detaches itself from its traditional anchors of meaning: location, landscape and bordered territory, from memorial sites and culturally defined contexts of remembering. It may become abstracted and hazy and vanish with time. Or it may become insular, rancorous and dogmatic, mooring migrants and diasporas in isolated and fixed narratives of a past they associate with home. But memory that travels may also be challenged by new localities and contexts, enabling new kinds of identification. While migrants are believed to centre their memory around a homogenising image of national heritage, re-­enacting representations of the past away from its point of origin may encourage a more critical engagement with that past.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at griffithreview@griffith.edu.au

Share article

About the author

Katarzyna Kwapisz Williams

Katarzyna Kwapisz Williams is deputy director of the Centre for European Studies at the Australian National University. She has published extensively on European diasporic...

More from this edition

Wheat, wages and weapons

EssayTWELVE KILOMETRES WEST of Melbourne’s central business district lies Sunshine, a growing urban centre that once housed Australia’s largest manufacturing industry. [i] Sunshine’s history...

Brexit, Australian-style

EssayIT WAS ALWAYS going to be ‘Australian-­style’. When Boris Johnson unveiled his government’s new points-­based immigration system in early February 2020, designed to ‘deliver...

Shadow life

MemoirI WAS LESS than five when I left Hungary for Australia, yet many of my formative experiences had already taken place – mostly unremembered and...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.