A book titled ‘Σάρκα και Οστά της Μακρινής Πατρίδας’ (The Embodiment of a Distant Homeland) examines the history of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV) from its foundation to 1972.

Author Juliana (Georgia) Charpantidou, a graduate of the Department of Sociology of Panteion University of Athens delved into the Community’s roots while pursuing her PhD thesis on the Greek diaspora organisation.

In the 75 years of its operation from 1897 to 1972 GOCMV transformed from a nine-member ecclesiastical committee of Greek immigrants with the aim of establishing and managing an Orthodox church, to a voluntary collective organisation that managed seven churches and 23 evening Greek schools attending to almost 2,000 students.

The GOCMV is the longest-standing institutional representation of a Greek community in Australia and reflects a form of formal, organised sociality of Greek immigrants as it was formed and operated through a voluntary, non-profit, self-governing association; a familiar form of organisation found in the diaspora based on national and religious identity.

The period examined in the book ends with the final term of president Dimitris Elefantis, in 1972, a time of important social, economic and political transformation. The study includes the decades-old dispute with the Archdiocese to the official abolition of the White Australia immigration policy and shift towards multiculturalism, the reduction of immigration flows and the fall of the dictatorship in Greece.

The book was based on research from primary and secondary sources such as the minutes and archives of the Greek Community of Melbourne, the State Archives of Australia, the Dardalis Archives for the Greek Diaspora of La Trobe University, the Greek- and English-language press of the time in Australia which were combined and correlated with the existing English and Greek literature.

“We are immensely proud of Juliana’s efforts. History is not simply a collection of facts and dates from the past,” GOCMV President Bill Papastergiadis said.

“History enables us to develop a better understanding of the world in which we live. Building knowledge and understanding of historical events and trends, enables us to develop a much greater appreciation for current events today and to also comprehend our evolution as a Community,” he added.

Board member, Dr Nick Dallas who was involved in overseeing the book project said that “we need to commend Juliana on her research scholarship which has given rise to this thought-provoking book. I feel certain it will become an obligatory reference to any scholar researching the Greek diaspora”.

A book launch has been planned for early 2023; in Australia the book will be available for sale from the Greek Community of Melbourne.

For those interested in obtaining a copy, contact bookshop@greekcommunity.com.au or call 03 9662 2722.