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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 March 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 MARCH 2018 25 NEWS son in a business suit by the ear, to the svelte newly arrived Greek waiter who can magically appear in more than five places simultaneously in order to take one's order, to the self-satisfied businessman with the protruding belly and the bejeweled corpulent fingers brandishing an unlit cigar, to the old man, sporting five-days’ growth, smoking the 17th cigarette in a row, to the entire population, which is able to play people tennis in unison, turning their heads synchronously as pedestrians promenade down the mall, in order to give "the glance," the one from which one can discern the pedestrian's entire life history, Eaton Mall and its patrons have no relevance to Greece. It is an Australian phenomenon and deserves to be portrayed as such in its own right, not expunged from the discourse. In their seminal work From Foreigner to Citizen: Greek Migrants and Social Change in White Australia 1897-2000, Toula Nicolacopoulos and George Vassilacopoulos pointed out that one of the ways that the dominant culture secures and reinforces its position as legitimate owner of this country is by abrogating to itself, the right to determine the discourse of multiculturalism, defining the manner in which the ethnic communities it permits to reside alongside it, shall be portrayed, or shall articulate their own identity. As potentially subversive "eternal foreigners," ethnic communities, no matter how long they have existed on Australian shores, must be placed on the margins, orientalised and presented, not as an integral part of modern Australian social reality, but rather, as the other, or effaced altogether. According to this paradigm, the reality of Eaton Mall and its people cannot exist. Instead, in Orwellian fashion, it must be replaced by something that does not challenge the hegemony of the dominant culture. This is certainly achieved by portraying the denizens of the mall not as Australians, but rather, as people who not only come from somewhere else, but actually, still live there. The fact that members of our community not only accepted the advertisement but were flattered by it, suggests that we are still suffering from a derivative cultural cringe that does not let us assert our unique identity as Greeks in Australia and instead, makes us feel compelled to seek recourse to stereotypes in order to define ourselves and articulate our ethnic identity, or to employ these and accept these in order to gain the approval of the dominant culture. To these people, the insulted Greek Australian traders of Eaton Mall ask: why can we not demand that Eaton Mall be celebrated for what it is, a gritty, aspirational, thriving expression of a community that is inextricably interwoven within the fabric of modern Melbourne? On the penultimate occasion I visited the mall, a woman walking in front of me, remarked expansively to her companions, who appeared to be visiting from Greece: "And here are the Exarcheia of Melbourne." Now try depicting that on a PTV poster. Just make sure faithfully to capture the moment where the Molotov cocktail impacts with the bus, and bursts into flames . . . Public Transport Victoria, we've got the hots for you. The Evzones are coming to Oakleigh And here is why this visit is important This month will see Melbourne and the City of Monash welcome Greece's famous Evzone Guard to Australia. As the Presidential Guard of the Hellenic Republic, this important ceremonial military unit guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Presidential Mansion in Athens, and with its iconic and distinctive historic uniform, the Evzone is known the world over. We welcome their visit to Melbourne also as a tribute to the link between Greece and Australia through our Anzac tradition, for indeed the Evzones are inextricably linked. When war broke out in 1939, Melbourne's Hellenic community joined with the rest of Victorians to support the war effort and send much-needed aid to the civilian victims of the Axis invasion of Greece, and so was born the famous Greek Days which were held across Australia. Nearly 100,000 people flocked to Melbourne's CBD in February 1940 in one of the biggest Greek Day rallies ever held during the war. Greek and Australian flags featured at these popular events – and of course photographs from the time show young local Greek Australians dressed in the famous Evzone uniform. The iconic uniform would also feature in one of the most famous photographs taken as the Australian troops arrived in Greece. War photographer Damien Parer arrived in Athens with the Anzacs in March 1941. Walking across the Acropolis, Damien came across a group of Australian soldiers chatting with their Greek comrades – three Evzone guards on Greece's National Day, 25 March, in 1941. This image would typify the strength of the connection between Greece and Australia, forged in war and enriched with the waves of post-war migration. What better location for them to celebrate this link but in Melbourne – the largest home of Greece's overseas diaspora – and in Oakleigh, one of Melbourne's distinctive Hellenic precincts. Oakleigh's link to Greece's Anzac connection goes back to Private William Withers who served in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915 and is buried on the island of Lemnos, in the waters of the northern Aegean while Oakleigh's War Memorial was rededicated by Brigadier Ned Herring, an Australian artillery officer who served both in the Salonika Front in the First World War and in the Greek campaign of 1941. These are only some of the reasons why the visit of Greece's iconic Evzone Guard provides an opportunity for all Australians to celebrate the Hellenic link to Anzac.
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