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Greek Islander Migration to Australia since the 1950s

(Re)discovering Limnian Identity, Belonging and Home

Palgrave Macmillan
  • Explores the experiences of both first-generation and second-generation migrants to Australia

  • Presents findings from multiple interviews conducted with Limnians who travelled to Australia following WWII

  • Contributes to Greek diaspora studies and demonstrates how constructed communities evolved and developed over time

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Migration History (PSMH)

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Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-85661-8
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  • Own it forever
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  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 119.99
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Table of contents (7 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxi
  2. Unravelling Islanders’ Migration Stories

    • Melissa N. Afentoulis
    Pages 1-24
  3. ‘For a Better Life’: In a New Country

    • Melissa N. Afentoulis
    Pages 51-81
  4. ‘Who Are We?’: Identity, Belonging and Place

    • Melissa N. Afentoulis
    Pages 83-118
  5. Diasporic Meanings of Home and ‘Dual Lives’

    • Melissa N. Afentoulis
    Pages 119-146
  6. From Pilgrimage to ‘A Way of Life’

    • Melissa N. Afentoulis
    Pages 147-173
  7. Consolidation and Reflections About the Future

    • Melissa N. Afentoulis
    Pages 175-184
  8. Back Matter

    Pages 185-252

About this book

Illuminating the experiences of immigrants to Australia in the late twentieth century, this book uses oral history to explore how identity and belonging are shaped through migration. Between the 1950s and the 1970s, many inhabitants from the small Greek island of Limnos travelled to Australia to flee post-war devastation and economic disaster. With an emphasis on the lived experiences and memories of Limnians, the book sheds light on the emotional pain and trauma they felt as they were separated from their families and homeland. Moving away from more traditional outlooks on migration studies, this book emphasises the significance of ethno-regional identity, and analyses how it can bring strength and longevity to a constructed community. Both the roles of men and women within the Greek diaspora are examined, in the way that they made the difficult decision to leave their homeland, and subsequently how they came to nurture and build families within a new, evolving community. Looking beyond first-generation migration, the author analyses the pattern of return visits to Limnos by the descendants of migrants. Acting as a form of identity consolidation for second-generation migrants, this journey to the ancestral homeland highlights the fluidity of what it means to belong somewhere, and redefines the notion of ‘home’. The author provides an alternative perspective to traditional migration studies and reaffirms the importance of transnational identity. A unique and important addition to research, this book combines memory studies and oral narrative to analyse how identity and belonging can be shaped across borders, rather than within them.


  • Immigration
  • Migration history
  • Australian immigrants
  • Greek migration
  • Post-war experience
  • Memory studies
  • Family
  • Identity
  • Identity formation
  • Diaspora studies
  • Greek diaspora
  • Intergenerational migration
  • Transnationalism
  • Oral history
  • Community


“A unique snapshot into the lived experiences of separation, interconnection, belonging, and one’s identity of the Limnian diaspora who settled in Australia and views of those who remained on the island. A valuable insight into my own Australian Greek Limnian heritage.”

 Despina Whitefield, Lecturer and Student Supervisor, Victoria University, Australia  

“This is an historical account of migration from the Aegean Island of Limnos to Australia, but it is also a compelling and subtle treatment of large themes of contemporary life, gender, identity, transnationalism, material circumstances and emotional geographies. 

The often-heroic experiences of people transplanting themselves across the planet changed the places they left and the places they reached, Greece and Australia, a small island and an island continent. This is not just a work about moving, it is itself moving, emotionally and intellectually, and by linking the particular with the general it becomes relevant for everybody about how Australia has become what it is, the outsize contribution of Greek immigrants to this transformation, and the central yet often neglected contribution of women to all aspects of the phenomenon. 

Through masterful research and writing Greek Islander Migration to Australia since the 1950s is a persuasive account of some of the most important issues the world is grappling with, difficult questions of identity and its persistence across space and time, of belonging and place, and how these are negotiated and enacted in transnational links. It is a deeply humanising work providing many rewards of stimulation and knowledge to the reader.”

 —Joseph Lo Bianco, AM, FAHA, Professor Emeritus, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Australia

 “Using dozens of interviews from both emigrants and those who stayed behind, Afentoulis has produced an engaging and moving history of migration from the island of Limnos, offering an insight into the totality of this process. She tackles themes such as the trauma of departure, the economic struggles of a new environment, social mobility, the formation of complex first- and second-generation identities, and the impact of migration on Limnos and its inhabitants who remained.”

—Panikos Panayi, Professor of European History, De Montfort University, UK, and Visiting Professor in History, Flinders University, Australia

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melbourne, Australia

    Melissa N. Afentoulis

About the author

Melissa N. Afentoulis is an independent scholar interested in migration history, cultural identity and its transnational formation within diasporas. Melissa was born on the island of Limnos (better known as Lemnos), Greece and arrived in Australia in 1963.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Greek Islander Migration to Australia since the 1950s

  • Book Subtitle: (Re)discovering Limnian Identity, Belonging and Home

  • Authors: Melissa N. Afentoulis

  • Series Title: Palgrave Studies in Migration History

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: History, History (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-85660-1Published: 24 November 2021

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-85663-2Published: 25 November 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-85661-8Published: 23 November 2021

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXI, 252

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations, 3 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Australian History, Oral History, Human Migration, Social History, European History

Buying options

eBook USD 89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-85661-8
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)