Commemorating migrant camps: vernacular memories in official spaces

Dellios, Alexandra 2015, Commemorating migrant camps: vernacular memories in official spaces, Journal of Australian studies, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 252-271, doi: 10.1080/14443058.2015.1018922.

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Title Commemorating migrant camps: vernacular memories in official spaces
Author(s) Dellios, Alexandra
Journal name Journal of Australian studies
Volume number 39
Issue number 2
Start page 252
End page 271
Total pages 20
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication Abingdon, Eng.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 1444-3058
Keyword(s) Bonegilla
public history
Summary Bonegilla, Australia's largest post-war migrant processing and reception centre, re-emerged in the public sphere from the late 1980s. A reunion festival was staged on the grounds of the former centre in 1987. Widely attended by former residents, it was considered a success by its organisers, a grass-roots committee of former residents. Another reunion was held ten years later, this time by a committee led by local council members. Both these reunions are important moments in the formation of Bonegilla's public history and its orientation to a narrative of progress and Australian multiculturalism. Analysing them highlights wider changes in heritage discourses and management, and in the evolution of multiculturalism in Australia. Many recent studies of public commemorations in Australia have argued that vernacular or participatory commemorations can be, and almost inevitably are, overtaken and dominated by state-sanctioned narratives. In this article, I will focus on these two reunions in order to argue that despite the progressive dominance of official or institutional powers over Bonegilla's public history, participants’ voices endure within or alongside official frameworks. Despite the obvious differences between the 1987 and 1997 reunions, collective and individual recollections from ex-residents and their families creatively operate within established and seemingly official narrative frameworks. These are not restrictive, nor do they silence alternative articulations. Some ex-residents actively draw on the narrative frameworks available to them to attribute new significance to their experiences, whether melancholy or fond, and consequently include alternative stories that add further to Bonegilla's public multi-vocality.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/14443058.2015.1018922
Field of Research 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
160303 Migration
Socio Economic Objective 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2015, International Australian Studies Association
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