Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 March 2019
BOOK 16 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 MARCH 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Greek Australian academic Dr Panayota Nazou presents her book, Promised Brides, at the Greek Festival of Sydney C ritics have dubbed Dr Panayota Nazou's book 'Promised Brides' the most systematic and coherent research into the promised brides practice of first generation Greek migrants to Australia The phenomenon occurred mainly between 1950 and 1975, when young Greek women -some of them in their early teens- were being shipped Down Under to be married to men they had never met. They arrived in Australia on "bride ships" to be greeted on the dock by men holding flowers in anticipation of starting families. It is those stories, that Dr Nazou will present to to Sydney's Greek Australian community on Sunday 17 March, at the Beta Bar (level 1, 238 Castlereagh St). Readings will take place by SBS Insight's Jenny Brockie, and journalist and academic Helen Vatsikopoulos. "Imagine you are a young woman, even a teenager. You are told by your family that they have found you a husband, a man you have never met who lives on the other side of the world. Imagine too, that you travel willingly, or maybe reluctantly and then spend rest of your life with this stranger," Dr Nazou explains. The study attempts its interpretation from the perspective of oral history, gender studies and culturalcritical theory. Its primary material is drawn from personal testimonies given in the form of interviews to the writer by a number of the brides themselves. The book seeks to cover an immense gap in the existing bibliography by closely studying the individuality of the women themselves and the way they felt, reacted and experienced the reality of an arranged marriage with a man they had not ever seen before. The women's stories are recorded in this heart wrenching book that includes the photographs they exchanged during their longdistance betrothal, letters of introduction and most importantly, the voices of the women themselves as they look back on the custom of matchmaking (proxenio) over which they had little say. Other than a great piece of literature, treading into the realm of short story novela, the social and psychological background of those 'brides' and theit emotional state. What is remarkable in the way Dr Nazou has chosen to transfer the oral testimonies into a book, is her effort to portray them as individual personalities, by following their personal adventure, exploring their existential ambivalence and finally understanding through them the social, cultural and political function of the institution of arranged marriage. It is also noteworthy that most of the women spoke frankly and openly about the process to Dr Nazou and only 2 of the 21 women requested anonymity. The study is considered to be one of the most important cultural and historiographical piece of evidence that will help better shape historians' knowledge of the Greek migration to Australia and how the bonds that shaped the community were formulated. book consists at the same time a cultural exploration of the experience of migration itself which is evident throughout the testimonies, giving a much needed outline of the THE TESTIMONIES: "I put on my wedding dress, all alone, in front of a mirror, and cried bitter tears (...) When I saw him, instead of warming, my heart froze. Because the man I saw in front of me was completely different to the man in the photo." Anonymous 1 "My brother-in-law saw me, liked me, and came straight to the point. He told me that he had a brother in Australia and he wants me to send him a girl." Margarita Farmakis "When I came here, I not only didn't find what had been promised, I found nothing. But I didn't regret my decision to come." Fani Minas "When he realised that I was a virgin, he said to me, 'Your parents must be the proudest parents in the world.' I believe that because of this, he loved me even more." Sofia Sfikas "For the marriage to succeed I had to be like an animal, without my own personality. I had to accept whatever he said to me." Anonymous 2 "For the first night, my koumbara had prepared her own bed for me so I could sleep with my fiancé. It left a terrible darkness in me, a weight. It was as if he was raping me… What can I tell you? Even up to the moment he died, I never loved him. " E.L. After the launch books will be available at http://www. bilingualbookshop.com.au Professor Spyros Vryonis remembered through his memoirs Generations of GreekAmerican Memories, Greek American Professor Speros Vryonis pays tribute to the members of his family as they struggled to settle as isobar Americans. For almost a century, despite the grave hardships and the shortfalls of human apportionment, the moira, the Vryonis family, maintained its drive for excellence. The memoirs detail the road I from Cephalonia to California, and include photographs and stories from Speros Vryonis life (18 July 1928-11 March 2019).The book contains a prologue by Professor Anastasios Tamis, from La Trobe University, where he states: "The transition from the stigma of the neo-migrant n his collection of memoirs, titled The Vryonis Family: Four to the status of an equal citizen was and remains challenging. Professor Vryonis does not limit himself to the role of recording events as they happened. he describes a colourful, and painfully didactic past." In an excerpt from the book, Mr Vryonis remarks on his visit to the Acropolis. He states: "This first and short visit to the holy rock marked my development and indeed my entire life, and was instrumental in determining my future professional and emotional life. The Acropolis and the Parthenon forever! Olympic games and sports, study and scholarship, active development of the spoken word, classical and modern Greek language and literature, the languages and history of the enemies and friends of the Greeks, all these and much more, as my religious disbelief and openness to the art and dogmas of all religions and yet my final decision to disregard the exclusivity of monotheism were all encoded in my soul and thought by the millions of refractions of sun light which the Periclean marble fragments sent forth on that afternoon and which drowned me in beauty and mystery. They have penetrated me thoroughly for these 63 years, and all the caustic drudgery of learned classicists, philologists of the world's sterile universities have not been sufficient to dislodge this 'conversion' or experience. Very much like music, all this has penetrated my soul in the manner, which Plato described when speaking of the power of music to penetrate and transform the person." Speros Vryonis remembers his visit to the holy rock in his memoirs.
09 March 2019
23 March 2019