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Swan Songs: The muddy waters of affect

Sokol, Ivanka (2022) Swan Songs: The muddy waters of affect. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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I was spawned within a fold of the Biokovo Mountains in the Dalmatian region of Croatia and born on the river’s edge in the Swan Valley of Western Australia.

When the Toscana sailed into Fremantle carrying my Mother, Father, Sister and I (in utero), it was 1958 and Dalmatian villagers dominated the Swan Valley landscape. Arriving in three waves and across two world wars, the Croatian diaspora community cultivated centuries-old traditions to help establish Western Australia's (WA) oldest wine/grape growing region. This cross-cultural story of family and community compels me to explore, via the lens of a practice-led PhD, how creative practice may uncover the different stories that exist in the liminal space. As well as textural preservation of a cultural group in transition, this project seeks to articulate the invisible and often excluded middle – liminal – of second-generation diasporic experience. The second-generation Croatian diaspora are unquestionably the ‘bridge’ generation. They straddle old-world affective inheritance steeped in tradition, imperialist domination, abject poverty, war, fear, loss, and memory on the one hand, in tension with new-world differences and translations on the other.

In this dissertation the methodology of ficto-criticism in collaboration with affect theory suspends a bridge across the liminal space supporting an inventory of traces that track the historical passage of ‘my peoples’ migration from Croatia to Western Australia. The thesis comprises two interlinked components. The creative artefact Swan Songs is a fluid multi-framed visual essay cinematically exploring the threshold of second-generation migration through the filtered lens of the first. The dissertation, The Muddy Waters of Affect expands on this, mapping histories of departure, arrival, and return, beginning at the turn of the twentieth century with Croatian diaspora on the Eastern Goldfields Wood-line before arriving to the Swan Valley Vineyards. This dissertation, as a work of creative research, is layered with past experience; artistic excursions supporting the notion that from the moment of birth deep knowing flows through the performing body as a living matrix.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Social Sciences and Arts
Supervisor(s): Trees, Kathryn and Grehan, Helena
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