Dellios, A., 2015. Marginal or mainstream? Migrant centres as grassroots and official heritage’


Migrant heritage, as a grassroots practice seeking to commemorate pre- and post-war migrant communities and their contributions, emerged in Australia from the 1980s. Since that time, its appeal has continued to grow. It now receives, in some form, state sanction and is policed by the same state and national legislation as other cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible. This article seeks to complicate understandings of migrant heritage as a marginal practice, specifically by interrogating the use-value of particular narratives in the Australian context – that is, how do individuals, communities and other groups (the grassroots) draw on sanctioned and publicly circulating narratives to mark their site as heritage-worthy? Ideas of what constitutes official and unofficial heritage can be mutually inclusive – a dialectical process. I analyse this in relation to the commemoration of former post-war migrant reception centres in Australia.