The maintenance of the Friulan-Italian community in Australia

  • Louise Bal

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    The aim of the study was to develop an in-depth understanding of the migration experiences of the Italian community of Australia, with a case study of the regional Friulan community of Sydney. For the ways in which people identify themselves at different times and in different environments may not always be consistent. The purpose of the study was to add to the exploration of the diversity, cultural variety and richness cultural communities have brought to Australia. The study set out to fulfill an important function in adding to the accounts of the diversity of ethnic groups in Australia, their structure and cultural backgrounds and the values of family members. Since culture is concerned with meaning, there is of course a very close relationship between culture and language, through which kin relationships, obligations and duties are expressed and appropriate behaviour defined. It is that meaning and relationship that led me to investigate the Italian and Friulan communities. The study took on the form of an ethnography enabling me, the researcher, to participate in order to develop an in depth understanding of the experiences of the Italian migrants, in particular the Friulan community. The data was collected by using key informant interviewing. The participants were encouraged to freely reflect on their past and present experiences to enable them to make a comparative analysis of their experiences in Australia and in their country of origin. This enabled the migrants to take on the role of culturally knowledgeable informants supplying information which was significant to them and which reflected their perceptions of their life experiences. The data has been faithfully recorded to represent the immigrant's point of view. The study revealed that many of the first and second-generation are highly involved with their Italian heritage and operate comfortably with a bicultural ethnic identity. The second generation have reconstructed the Italian-Australian family, thus changing the Italian community and providing links between the Italian, the Anglo-Australian and the other ethnic communities. Ethnicity is continually negotiated and is a constant source of transformation for people of immigrant background. If Italian-Australians continue to associate, both through family and cultural practices then the Italian-Australian identity will continue. The big question is what will happen in the third and fourth Italian-Australian generation. It is here that the question of ethnic and national identity becomes highly relevant. Cultural diversity presents challenging issues for Australia: what it means to be an Australian; the relationship between national and personal identities; identifying and working in both the cohesive and divisive forces in a multicultural society; and the form and flavour of a future republic. None of these issues are new, yet all are of immediate concern, and the symbolic importance of the approach of the twenty-first century invests them with particular meaning.
    Date of Award2001
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBarbara Chambers (Supervisor)

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