Issue 17
Monday, 09 October 2017
Charles Darwin University
Associate Professor George Frazis on the trail of Hellenic histories
Associate Professor George Frazis on the trail of Hellenic histories

Revealing history by raising the dead

By Andrew Hall

If you are researching ethnic and cultural diaspora, the local cemetery is not a bad place to start, says Greek and Hellenic Studies Associate Professor George Frazis.

“My life is the study of death – the real stories are in cemeteries,” he said.

The Hellenic community’s deep roots in Darwin span more than a century as war-ravaged Europe forced them to seek peace and opportunity elsewhere.

Peeling back the layers of Greek and Hellenic histories in Darwin and the Northern Territory is no easy thing though, according to Dr Frazis, as records were lost when Cyclone Tracy wreaked havoc on the city in 1974.

But Dr Frazis is determined to unearth the histories of the Greek and Hellenic diaspora of the NT, in part, to honour his father, who left his wife and five children in Greece in 1963 and emigrated to Darwin in search of work to provide for his family.

Dr Frazis visited his father in Darwin in 1979. “When I returned to Greece I made a promise to myself and to my father that one day I would return to Darwin because I loved this city,” he said.

Return he did, in 1983 and over the next two decades Dr Frazis became a renowned Greek and Hellenic studies academic at Adelaide and Flinders universities.

In 2007 he began conducting Greek “In-Country” language and culture study tours with the imprimatur of an accredited CDU course.

In 2012 the Guardians of Greek Language and Culture group was created under the auspices of the CDU Foundation with the express purpose of sponsoring a Chair in Greek and Hellenic studies at the university, to which Dr Frazis was appointed in 2015.

He recently conducted the 11th consecutive “In-Country” tour and this year was instrumental in setting up the inaugural International Conference on the Hellenic Diaspora, which was staged at Casuarina campus, and at the universities of Macedonia and the Aegean in Greece.