Join the Department of Sociology and Danae Karydaki for an insightful webinar.
Danae Karydaki is a historian. She is a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Thessaly and a teaching fellow at the University of Athens, Greece. She received her PhD from Birkbeck, University of London in 2016, where she also taught between 2013 and 2015. She has edited the volume Leros in the Spotlight and on the Margin: History, Politics, Psychiatry (Psifides: 2020) and her book History and Psychoanalysis in the Columbus Centre: The Meaning of Evil is forthcoming from Routledge. Her research interests include social history of wartime and early post-war Greece, gender history, oral history, history of psychiatry, and history of psychoanalysis.
On 10 September 1989, a Greek scandal made headlines in the British Observer newspaper; the article’s title was “Europe’s Guilty Secret” and the front page depicted several naked mental patients looking desperate, wandering around the Psychiatric Hospital buildings on the Greek island of Leros, located 171 miles south-east of Athens. If one tried to unravel this “guilty secret”, they would discover that the Leros mental asylum, which opened its gates in 1958, was only the tip of the iceberg of a history of chronic and multi-layered confinement. Leros served several times as the place to accommodate those excluded, and often abused, by the Greek state, usually in the name of care.
Almost as if one decided to apply the Foucauldian paradigm to the letter on Leros, the very buildings that were constructed by the Italians to be used as military barracks in the interwar period were re-used as indoctrination institutions in the turbulent post-Greek Civil War era (1948-1964), prison cells for political dissidents during the military junta (1967-1974), institutions for people with mental illness and intellectual disability (1958-today), and concentration camps for refugees who come to Europe in search of a better life (2016-today). Drawing on unpublished archival material and oral testimonies, this presentation seeks to explore this history in order to shed light on the post-war ideology and policies of the Greek state as well as its consequences on the subjects’ lives.