By exploring the history of racial slurs, ‘My kids are still called dagoes’: historical responses to an irksome racial slur presented by Dr Andonis Piperoglou aims to clarify how racist name-calling has played a role in shaping the way migrants have understood cultural difference, while also influencing how they have understood each other.

In this hybrid seminar hosted at the Delphi Bank Mezzanine at the Greek Centre, Dr Piperoglou who is the Hellenic Senior Lecturer in Global Diasporas at the University of Melbourne analyses the circulation of the forgotten slur ‘dago’ in an effort to broaden the history of migration and racism.

In adopting a transnational approach, the presentation also aims to alter the way we consider race in the hitherto separate immigration histories of the United States and Australia.

Racial slurs permeate in our public vernacular. Throughout the United States and Australia people from the Mediterranean region were often labelled as “dagoes” and/or “wogs”. The terms ‘dago’ and ‘wog’ were derogatory and prejudicial racial slurs that situated Mediterranean migrants as precarious citizens within each nation. Despite the ubiquity of these racial slurs scant historical attention paid to them, while contemporary discussions on racial slurs often lack historical context and depth.

In addition, by exploring the mobility of racial slurs, another objective of this presentation – which is part of a broader project on the history of racial slurs – is to explore how racial slurs influenced how migrants mediated racism. Here, the presentation is designed to expose how racial slurs were not only imposed categories but also embraced, although frequently refuted, identities for migrants. The presentation is of cultural benefit as it will uncover how the meaning of racial slurs have changed over time, while informing the vernacular of race-talk today.

After the presentation audience members will be invited to share their stories and experiences of racial slurs.

Dr Piperoglou has published widely on the history of Greek settlement in Australia and teaches extensively on migration history. This presentation stems from a chapter, ‘”Dirty Dagoes” Respond: A Transnational History of a Racial Slur’, that was published in Redirecting Ethnic Singularity: Italian Americans and Greek Americans in Conversation (edited by Yiorgos Anagnostou, Yiorgos D. Kalogeras, and Theodora Patrona). Redirecting Ethnic Singularity was recently awarded the 2022 Modern Greek Studies Association Vasiliki Karagiannaki Best Edited Book Prize in Modern Greek Studies.

When: Thursday 1 September 6.30pm-9.30pm

Where: The Greek Centre | Delphi Bank Mezzanine, 168 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne