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I live on my memories: British return migrants and the possession of the past

By Alistair Thomson

Abstract

The ways in which migrants remember and tell their life stories are often illuminating about the nature and meaning of the migration experience. This article focuses on the memories of British people who returned from Australia after emigrating on the postwar assisted passage migration scheme. The life stories of British postwar migrants who remained in Australia have been characterised as 'epic stories' which chart the struggle and ultimate success of the migrant. We anticipated that the return migrants might regard their return from Australia as something of a failure, and that in interviews they might remember it with bitterness or disappointment. And yet, we have been struck by the very positive nature of memories of the time in Australia. Our expectations have been challenged, and we have been forced to ask some important questions about memory and migration. Why are the years in Australia often remembered as 'the time of my life'? Why are some memories more valuable than others? Do memories serve particular purposes for migrants

Publisher: University of California Press
Year: 2003
OAI identifier: oai:sro.sussex.ac.uk:15669
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