Melbourne seminar to focus on the demise of tobacco tycoon Peter Michelides

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Dr John Yiannakis will give a lecture titled ‘Peter Michelides: Globalisation and the Demise of the Tobacco Tycoon’ on Thursday, August 31 as part of the Greek Community of Melbourne’s Greek History and Culture Seminars. This is an online only free event.

Peter Michelides, having arrived in Western Australia in 1904, helped to pioneer the state’s tobacco industry. Joined by his younger brother Michael, they were soon selling handmade cigarettes from Perth street corners.

From these humble beginnings Michelides established a large vertically integrated tobacco enterprise, which would become the third largest tobacco company in Australia. At the same time, he was a very influential member of the local Greek community, becoming the longest serving president of the Hellenic Community of WA.

However, as trade restrictions were lifted during the 1950s multinational corporations impacted on his business, bringing it and the WA tobacco industry to an end. Was this inevitable? Does this example serve as a precursor to what has happened to many Australian companies over the last 40 years?

About Dr John Yiannakis

Dr John N. Yiannakis OAM was born and educated in Perth, Western Australia. For many years he lectured in Modern and Ancient History at Tuart College. Dr Yiannakis then worked as a Research Fellow at Curtin and Murdoch Universities for several years. More recently he was employed at the University of WA and Australian Catholic University and was an Adjunct Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University.

Dr John N. Yiannakis OAM

While he has a wide range of historical interests, Dr Yiannakis has published extensively in the field of Greek migration, settlement and adaptation to Western Australia. He has written books and numerous articles pertaining to the development and structure of Perth’s Greek community, including Greek Pioneers in Western Australia; Odysseus in the Golden West and Vlase Zanalis: Greek Australian Artist.

More recently he had published a co-authored monograph Black Night, White Day: Greek women in Australia, a longitudinal study, and edited and contributed to both volumes of Perspectives on the Hellenic Diaspora. In 2022, Dr Yiannakis co-authored the Cazzie Connection.

How to participate

This is an online-only event, so please join us on YouTube or Facebook.

You don’t need an account with either of these services to watch, but you do need one if you want to participate in the Live Q&A, where you get the opportunity to submit your written questions to the speaker.

We look forward to your participation and your insightful questions.

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