Tell Me My Story: The Contribution of Historical Research to an Understanding of the Australian Lebanese Experience
- Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies
- Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies
- Volume 4, Number 2, 2017
- Additional Information
This study of the Lebanese in Australia from the 1880s to 1947 was an exercise in historical retrieval. Because the lives of the early immigrants were bound by racially based colonial and then state and federal legislation, archival records are a rich source of information about Lebanese and their status as a non-European, non-white, immigrant group in the context of a white Australia. Due to a deliberate silence about the past, most descendants did not know they were classified as Asian and were unaware of the specific difficulties their parents and grandparents faced as a consequence. When memories collected in oral history interviews and information from archival sources are woven together, it is possible to tell a more complete story. Sometimes, commonly held beliefs about the migration story are challenged; in other cases, the experiences of individuals make more sense when placed in a wider context.