Chief Investigator Professor Joy Damousi
Professor Damousi is an ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellow and Professor of History at the University of Melbourne. She is the Chief Investigator of the ARC Funded Child Refugees and Australian Internationalism Laureate Fellowship.
Her publications include: The Labour of Loss: Mourning, Memory and Wartime Bereavement in Australia (Cambridge 1999; Shortlisted for the NSW Australian History Prize); Freud in the Antipodes: A Cultural History of Psychoanalysis in Australia (UNSW Press 2005; Winner of the Ernest Scott Prize); Talking and Listening in the Age of Modernity: Essays on the History of Sound (ANU Press, 2007) (ed. with Desley Deacon); Colonial Voices: A Cultural History of English in Australia, 1840-1940 (Cambridge 2010; Shortlisted for the NSW Australian History Prize); and What Did You Do in the Cold War Daddy? Personal Stories from a Troubled Time(UNSW Press, 2014), (ed. with Ann Curthoys).
In 2015, Memory and Migration in the Shadow of War: Australia's Greek Immigrants after World War II and the Greek Civil War, will be published by Cambridge University Press.
Child Refugees and Australian Internationalism: 1920 - 1970
This study aims to generate new and powerful understandings of the history of child refugees in Australia from 1920-1970. A focus on child refugees has remained an unexplored area of historical analysis in the work on the history of refugees in Australia. This project aims to explore how this history is tied to the history of Australia's international role on refugee and migration issues and how this past can inform us about current and future approaches to refugee policy. Its focus will also be on the campaigns undertaken on behalf of child refugees conducted by relief agencies and humanitarian organisations.
- Damousi, Joy. "The Greek Civil War, Child Removal and Traumatic Pasts in Australia" in Mason, Robert (ed.,). Legacies of Violence: Rendering the Unspeakable Past in Modern Australia. Berghan Books, 2017.
- Damousi, Joy. "Building "healthy happy family units": Aileen Fitzpatrick and reuniting children separated by the Greek Civil War with their families in Australia, 1949-1954," in The History of the Family 2017.
- Damousi, Joy. ""This is against all the British traditions of fair play": Violence against Greeks on the Australian home-front during the First World War," in Walsh, Michael and Vankos, Andrekos (eds.,). Australia and the Great War: Identity, Memory and Mythology. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2016, pp.128-145.
- Damousi, Joy. "Humanitarianism in the interwar years: How Australians responded to the child refugees of the Armenian genocide and the Greek-Turkish exchange," in History Australia 12, No.1, 2015, pp. 95-115.
- Damousi, Joy. Memory and Migration in the Shadow of War: Australia's Greek Immigrants after World War II and the Greek Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Professor Joy Damousi on the Pursuit website.
I am the child of Greek post-war immigrants. I grew up in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy in the 1960s and early 70s.
Professor Joy Damousi talks about the 'Child Refugees and Australian Internationalism from 1920 to the present' project.
Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr Mary Tomsic
Mary Tomsic is an ARC Postdoctoral Research Associate researching the history of visual representations of child refugees. Her broad teaching and research interests are in cultural history in particular visual culture, film and history; historical representations in popular culture; Australian film culture as well as understandings of gender & sexuality. Her book Beyond the Silver Screen: A History of Women, Filmmaking and Film Culture in Australia 1920-1990 will be published in October this year. Mary is a co-convenor of the Australian Women’s History Network and the Melbourne Feminist History Group.
Picturing Refugee Children
My project explores shifting understandings of child refugees and displaced children depicted in visual sources since 1920. I will examine a range of representations over several decades, including photographs, film, fundraising materials, picture story books, newsreel and television footage and children's art works. Through these visual representations, I will explore how child refugees have been characterised and the role of visual depictions in mobilising support or opposition to child refugees in Australia and around the world. In drawing together a wide array of visual depictions I hope to better understand the impact of visual culture in the stories and histories that are told about displaced children in the past and today.
- Tomsic, Mary. ‘‘Happiness again’: photographing and narrating the arrival of Hungarian child refugees and their families 1956–1957’, The History of the Family, 2017, DOI: 10.1080/1081602X.2016.1276852.
- Tomsic, Mary, ‘The politics of picture books: Stories of displaced children in 21st century Australia’ History Australia (forthcoming accepted 14 May 2017).
- Tomsic, Mary. Beyond the Silver Screen. A history of women, filmmaking and film culture in Australia, 1920-1990 (Melbourne University Press, 2017).
- Damousi, Joy, Kim Rubenstein and Mary Tomsic (eds.), Diversity in Leadership: Australian women, past and present (Canberra: ANU Press, 2014).
Dr Mary Tomsic on the Pursuit website: "Since civil war erupted in Syria six years ago, millions of refugees have made the perilous journey, by land and sea, to Europe, to escape bloodshed and conflict. It’s been referred to by organisations like the United Nations as the “biggest refugee crisis since World War 2”.
Gabrielle Murphy, "Writing history in pictures", The Age 5 February 2015
Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr Jordana Silverstein
Dr Jordana Silverstein is an ARC Postdoctoral Research Associate, researching the history of Australian government policy towards child refugees from 1970 to the present. Her research has examined histories of modern Jewish identity, memory, sexuality and diasporism, and explored notions of belonging and racialisation, in Australia and the United States. She is the author of Anxious Histories: Narrating the Holocaust in Jewish Communities at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century (Berghahn Books, 2015hb, 2017pb) and co-editor of In the Shadows of Memory: The Holocaust and the Third Generation (Vallentine Mitchell, 2016). Jordana is a co-convenor of the Australian Women's History Network and is on the Editorial Board of Australian Historical Studies, and in 2016 was on the judging panel of the non-fiction prize for the Victorian Premiers Literary Award.
A History of Australian Immigration Policy and Child Refugees: 1970 to the Present
This project investigates the ways that child refugees have been discussed and managed through Australian immigration policy since 1970. Starting with the notion that neither the child nor the refugee are natural categories, but rather are historically created and produced, and do particular work, this research will present a cultural history of the production of this category of person, by governments, politicians, policy makers, and the general public, to understand the moments when it becomes visible, and what it is used for. This research will examine the histories of particular instruments, ideas, and pieces of legislation - such as the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946 - as well as the emotions which swirl around, and are produced by and through, this field of policy-making.
- Silverstein, Jordana. “‘The beneficent and legal godfather’: a history of the guardianship of unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in Australia, 1946-1975’, The History of the Family, 2017, DOI: 10.1080/1081602X.2016.1265572.
- Silverstein, Jordana. ""I Am Responsible": Histories of the Intersection of the Guardianship of Unaccompanied Child Refugees and the Australian Border," in Cultural Studies Review 22, No. 2, 2016, pp. 65-89.
- Silverstein, Jordana. Anxious Histories: Narrating the Holocaust in Jewish Communities at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Berghahn Books, 2015.
- Jilovsky, Esther, Silverstein, Jordana and Slucki, David (eds.,). In the Shadows of Memory: The Holocaust and the Third Generation. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2015.
Jordy Silverstein and Max Kaiser on the Overland website 23 February 2016. The focus on children leads to a perpetuation of a discourse around asylum seekers that is ultimately damaging to longer-term aims of dismantling the border regime.
Jordana Silverstein on the ABC News website.
The Israeli Prime Minister's offended Palestinians and Jewish Holocaust survivors. He's left historians astonished, and in Israel inspired widespread mirth and hundreds of new internet memes.
Jordana Silverstein, RN Afternoons on the ABC Radio National website.
When it comes to educating young people about their history and the history of others, parents and teachers must work out how to interpret events in order to paint the most accurate picture of what occurred.
Research and administrative officer Dr Rachel Stevens
Rachel completed a PhD in immigration and refugee history in 2011 (Monash) and recently published her first book, Immigration Policy from 1970 to the present (Routledge, 2016). Based in part on her doctoral research, this book examines national debates on immigration, asylum seekers and guest worker programs in North America, Europe and Australia over the past 45 years.
As part of the Laureate project, she has conducted extensive archival research throughout Australia and in the United States and Britain. Rachel is responsible for communications, the project's twitter account and managing the Refugee History Network.
In terms of research, she has recently completed research with Monash colleague Associate Professor Seamus O'Hanlon on the effects of immigration on Australian cities since 1945 (forthcoming in the Australian Journal of Politics and History). Rachel is currently completing an article (with O'Hanlon) on intercultural intimate relationships in Australia, a paper which is based heavily on the Australian generations oral history project interviews at the National Library of Australia.
Current project: The other Asian refugees in the 1970s. Australian responses to the Bangladeshi refugee crisis in 1971
The Bangladesh Liberation War against West Pakistan in 1971 triggered a mass exodus of 10 million refugees, the deaths of approximately 1.5 million people and destruction of villages and crops. Complicating matters further, the vast refugee camps in eastern India were plagued by a cholera outbreak. Despite this widespread violence and destruction, western governments were reluctant to intervene as they were preoccupied with the Cold War and their own domestic politics. International aid agencies, however, were undeterred by this unfavourable political climate and stepped into the void, offering substantial financial and material assistance. Among these were Australian aid agencies as well as individuals from a range of backgrounds. Despite the inertia of the Australian Government, Australian individuals and organisations proactively raised awareness, fundraised and organised humanitarian activities for Bangladeshi refugees.
This project is based on archival research of Australian aid agencies and is supplemented with a close reading of student, church, political and mainstream newspapers. At a time when the Australian Government was focused on the war in Indo-China and the Cold War, this chapter considers why the Australian public so eagerly offered aid to Asian, Muslim refugees, some of whom held communist views. This project also reflects on the schism between government refugee policy and community attitudes, an issue that still resonates today.
PhD Candidate Sarah Green
My research and professional work focus on the experiences of people who lived through adverse circumstances in childhood. I am particularly interested in how children's lives are heard, understood and remembered in different contexts.
My PhD combines oral histories with artefacts, diaries and other records kept by children at the time of the war. Through these sources, I draw attention to evidence of children’s resilience and agency. I am also interested in how memories narrated by child survivors should be positioned and understood within the current political climate in Bosnia, where the lives and deaths of children have become a focal point for debate about war remembrance.
Book chapter: “’I didn’t see the footprints’: children’s monuments and contested memory in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Exploring the Role of Transitional Justice in Rebuilding Trust in a Post-conflict Society, Sarajevo: International University of Sarajevo, 2016
“’I Was Just A Child’: Exploring How the Lives of Children are Remembered, Commemorated and Forgotten”, Why Remember? Memory and Forgetting in Times of War and its Aftermath, Hotel Europe, Sarajevo, 30 June–2 July 2017
Children as the faces of war: The experiences of Bosnian children in Australia, Children and War: Past and Present, University of Salzburg, 13-15 July 2016
‘“And I always remember ... there was ice cream in the freezer”: the effects of contemporary political debate on the narrated personal histories of Bosnian child refugees in Australia’, Horrible Histories? Children’s Lives in Historical Contexts, King’s College London, 16-18 June 2016
PhD Candidate Niro Kandasamy
Niro Kandasamy is a PhD candidate in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of New South Wales in 2013 (Honours Class 1). Before commencing her PhD in 2015 under the supervision of Professor Joy Damousi and Dr Jordana Silverstein, she worked as a social researcher for Western Sydney Information and Research. She also worked as a social researcher for Anglicare Victoria from 2015-2017. Throughout her PhD candidature, she has been presenting her research at conferences in Australia and overseas. She also has published articles in Medicine, Conflict and Survival, Forced Migration Studies, Australian Social Work, and a book chapter in Disability and Rurality: Identity, Gender and Belonging (Routledge, 2017). In 2016, she was awarded the Prue Torney Memorial Prize to undertake archival research in Sri Lanka. Her broad research interests include forced migrant histories, refugee resettlement and welfare service delivery. She is also currently working as a sessional tutor and research assistant.
My PhD study explores the resettlement experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil forced migrants arriving in Australia during the late twentieth century. The study draws on oral history interviews and archival materials collected in Australia and Sri Lanka to present new insights into the everyday lives of Tamil children navigating new landscapes. My study reveals how key aspects in Tamil children’s lives such as education, religion and culture were connected to spaces and contexts around histories and ideas that shaped their past.
- Kandasamy, Niro. ‘An unequal partnership: resettlement service providers in Australia’, Forced Migration Review 54 (2017): 41–3.
PhD Candidate Anh Nguyen
Anh Nguyen was a Vietnamese child refugee raised in Carrollton, Texas. She graduated with a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity and Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from Bryn Mawr College. In 2002, she had a postgraduate fellowship from Harvard to conduct research interviews about the acculturation of Vietnamese in Australia. She then worked with Harvard School of Public Health on AIDS research and treatment in Nigeria, and became a bilingual legal aid advocate for Vietnamese immigrants in Boston. She currently works as a paralegal for Native Title Services Victoria and is pursuing her PhD on the oral history of Vietnamese Australian child refugees in Australia.
Towards a New Historical & Psychological Perspective of Acculturation and Success: Oral History of Vietnamese Australian Child Refugees as Adults
The research captures the history of Vietnamese Australian child migration, acculturation, and factors that that contributed to their success and challenges as adults. Based on the narratives of child refugees, unaccompanied minors, adoptees, and reverse migrants living and working in Vietnam, it examines what are the historical, cultural, psychological, family and self-generated narratives that have motivated and sustained them as adults? How has this contributed to their public, private, economic and social success in Australia? It also investigates the international policies and political ideologies from 1975 to 2000, how they impacted those experiences, and how they differ from our current perspective on refugees and asylum seekers.