A body broken: a critical biography of Alekos Doukas (1900-1962)
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 15:14 authored by Petro Alexiou
This thesis is a critical biography as cultural history that tracks the life of an Asia Minor Greek, Alekos Doukas (1900-1962), through his childhood years, exile, wartime experience, refugee life in the 1920s and migration to Australia where he is gradually radicalised in the 1930s. In the 1940s and 1950s he becomes an activist and published author. Through a close study of a literary archive of letters and manuscripts, Doukas is located and analysed as an historical subject within the broader events and discourses of the first half of the twentieth century. The thesis works to open up the neglected field of migrant subjectivity in which cultural history has been flattened by assimilationist monocultural theoretical frameworks. The thesis critically examines contemporary Greek-Australian historiographical and literary accounts that construct Doukas in terms of a mythologised figure and that read his 1950s socialist realist novels as unproblematic autobiography and historical testimony. The study explores the cultural history of a minority group through a transnational perspective within broad Australian cultural debates about national history, ongoing colonialist discourses, ethnicity and race, memorialisation, and the competing claims of fiction and history. The thesis constructs a biographical narrative that focuses on the interplay between broad discursive systems and everyday practice, addressing in the process questions of agency, location and cultural specificity. It analyses Doukas within the broad cultural and political crisis that followed WWI and the Greek-Turkish war, as well as the transition of the Greek diaspora from traditional trading to industrial migrant patterns of overseas settlement. The methodology is informed by critical discourse analysis and, in particular, Edward Said's Orientalism which provides a model for the movement from broad analysis to close textual readings. The study analyses original sources in Greek and Greek-Australian cultural history, connecting a wide range of theoretical and historical perspectives. The thesis is also informed by contemporary research that seeks to rewrite the separate national narratives of communities in the old Ottoman Empire as interconnected and entangled histories. Finally, the thesis also focuses on the corporeal aspects of memory and the materiality of culture in which intellectual and cultural phenomena operate through the location of a unique body.