Michalia Arathimos

Michalia writes literary fiction. Her research interests were indigeneity, postcolonialism, hybridity, Māori, migrants and nationhood.

PhD awarded 2013

Michalia writes: 'The creative element of my PhD was a novel, Aukati, which was published by Mākaro Press in 2017. Set in New Zealand in a rural Māori community, Aukati follows the story of Alexia, a law student and second generation Greek, and Isaiah, a Māori man who is returning home. The land around the community is under threat from fracking. Isaiah has a history of direct action, but Alexia's reasons for attending are more complex. The atmosphere is volatile, and there is tension between the city activists and local Māori. After a political march at which it is clear that the police were informed of their plans, the activists begin to suspect that they are being watched. The land under their feet starts to go bad, and the campaign and the relationships within the group begin to come apart.

'My critical component examined the construction of "otherness" in relation to authors as public figures. In Aotearoa New Zealand, stories by authors outside dominant Pakeha culture are actively celebrated. By examining the media's reception of the first works of six New Zealand authors: Witi Ihimaera, Keri Hulme, Tusiata Avia, Karlo Mila, Kapka Kassabova, and Cliff Fell, I analysed how spaces are prepared for the ethnic "other" in writing culture in Aotearoa. Inherent in this preparation is a form of control: such writers are displayed as colourful "others". Using media articles as a collective text, I proved how often such authors are labeled by their ethnicity, and how often they are re-exoticised. Writers like Mila and Avia are almost always considered "other" in the mainstream press, while Fell, a migrant to Aotearoa, is quickly claimed as "a New Zealander". These statistics do not reflect who "we" as a writing culture, really are.'

Bio: Michalia Arathimos is a Greek-New Zealand writer. She has published work in many places, including Best New Zealand Fiction Volume 4, Lost in Translation, Sport, Turbine, Overland, The Lifted Brow, Westerly, and JAAM. She completed her Masters in Creative Writing at the IIML in 2006, and was a Writer in Residence at the Robert Lord Cottage in 2008.

In 2015 Michalia edited Blackmail Press 41, a special issue entitled 'Piercing the White Space', which was published in November. She also won the 2015 LIANZA Libraries Essay Competition and was shortlisted for the Overland VU Short Story Prize.

In 2017 she won the Open Category in the Sunday Star Times Short Story competition, and second place in the Landfall Essay competition. Her first novel, Aukati, was launched at Melbourne Writer's Festival and at Wellington Litcrawl. She also won an NZSA/CLNZ Research Grant to work on a non-fiction book about ethnicity in the media. She works as the fiction reviewer for the Melbourne literary and cultural magazine Overland.

Michalia is the Randell Cottage New Zealand Writer in Residence for 2020, and also a Grimshaw Sargeson Fellow for 2020.

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