Where does 'Multicultural' end and 'Australian' begin?

 Italian Australian. Creating Culture, Defining Diaspora incorporates the perspectives of nearly 50 groups, constituting families, social clubs, aged care organisations, student clubs and of individuals. In all, around 200 Melbournians aged between 1 day and 85 and representing at least four cohorts of migrants and six generations of life in Australia had shared their insight into the notion of being Australian from an Italian diaspora perspective.

So, what did we find? We found a microcosm of Australian society – we found privileged people, single parents, those who had encountered financial, emotional and legal hardship, we found doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, truck drivers, feminists, students and people of all appearances; we found close families and estranged, lonely people, content people, awkward people, people who didn’t consider themselves Italian and people who didn’t want to be considered Australian. We found gender fluidity, multi-ethnicity and varying political views. We found those who were comfortable with their Italian, Australian or Italian-Australian identity and those who were averse to the entire notion of an ethnic identity.

Amongst the participants, there was a general feeling that aspects of culture and experience that had not yet been documented, that ‘Italians’ had been overlooked in contemporary multicultural discussion and that Italian-Australian traditions are misunderstood as parochial. In a Nation that pipelines its 'ethnics' the Italian-Australian 'community' helped us explore a future multicultural Australia, where family, not policy drives a 'natural' interculturality that is not negotiated nor debated, but embodied. 

This is not a nostalgic gaze into tradition, nor is it a definitive contemporary document, but rather an introduction to the idea that it is possible to be both Australian and Italian, and it is possible to feel like you are neither. 

In 2018, we travelled to New York to participate in the Diaspore Italiane conference. Watch us talk about the making of this exhibition, and the value of the personal in discussing policy.