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Abstract

Australian multiculturalism has become central to the nation’s political landscape, yet historians have rarely considered the impact of government policies on migrants’ pre-existing political identities. Multiculturalism became government policy in 1973, in recognition of the new complexity of Australian society that followed greatly increased post-war immigration. The new policy sought to facilitate migrants’ inclusion in Australian society, without obliging them to surrender their cultural heritage. Similar to the government’s emphasis on ethnic identity, historians have displayed sustained interest in ethnic heritage, rather than on migrants’ political belief. New research in transnational histories and social memory studies provide renewed potential to evaluate the processes through which migrants’ political and moral ideals have been transferred to Australia. Memories of social norms and cultural landscapes existed in a dialogue with migrants’ everyday Australian experiences, helping to frame their engagement with broader society. The closer integration of multicultural studies with transnational research and memory studies offers new perspectives of Australian history, and a deeper understanding of migrants’ engagement in multicultural Australia.