Bryan Gandevia Prize announcement
The Australian War Memorial is proud to announce Dr Kristen Alexander as the winner of the Bryan Gandevia Prize for Australian military–medical history, for her PhD thesis “Emotions of Captivity: Australian Airmen Prisoners of Stalag Luft III and their Families”, completed at the UNSW, Canberra in 2020.
The Gandevia Prize was presented to Dr Alexander on Thursday 24 March by Memorial Director Matt Anderson who said the Memorial was privileged to be able to support such important research.
“It is imperative for the Memorial to continue working towards a full understanding of all aspects of war. Dr Alexander’s thesis speaks to the little known experience of Australian airmen captured and the lasting impacts it has not only on the service personnel but the families that love and support them” Mr Anderson said.
At the end of the Memorial’s Gandevia Prize judging process, the panel wrote:
Rated outstanding by examiners, this work demonstrates a masterful command of the Australian and international literature related to captivity and prisoners of war. Richly researched and well written, its descriptions of life in captivity and its impact is wide-ranging and comprehensive. As well as tackling taboo subjects such as sexuality and suicide, the postwar experience of prisoners is followed to address contemporary understandings of ongoing trauma, including PTSD, moral injury, and intergenerational trauma.
Dr Alexander is “thrilled and overwhelmed” to be awarded the prize. “It is a great honour”, she said. “The traumatic residue of European captivity, especially among airmen prisoners, has been little recognised”, Dr Alexander said. “Through the Bryan Gandevia Prize I hope to highlight the wartime, life-long, and intergenerational challenges of captivity.”
Dr Alexander is currently an Adjunct Associate Lecturer at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra. She is reworking her thesis into a book which will examine the legacy of captivity for Australia’s airmen prisoners of Stalag Luft III, their wives and sweethearts, and children.
Dr Georgia McWhiney’s PhD thesis “‘I can … doctor myself up without going to the doctor’: vernacular medicine in the British world during the Great War”, completed at Macquarie University in 2020, was the shortlisted finalist.
The Bryan Gandevia Prize, worth $5,000, is awarded to an outstanding honours, masters, or doctoral thesis on a significant subject on military, social, or medical aspects of Australian wartime history. The prize is intended to assist scholars in the early stages of their research careers and may be used to facilitate publication of their work or to further their research interests. It was established to commemorate Dr Gandevia’s contribution to Australian military and medical history, and the research and publication activities of the Australian War Memorial. Dr Kristen Alexander is the fifth recipient of the award.
For further information see: https://www.awm.gov.au/research/grants/gandevia_prize.
The Bryan Gandevia Prize is one of the most generous awards for postgraduate studies in Australian history.
Bryan Gandevia (1925–2006) was a medical researcher and practitioner. He was also a highly respected historian, making major contributions to Australian social history through his publications on the history of medicine, medical practice, and health in Australia.
Gandevia graduated in 1948 with a degree in medicine from the University of Melbourne and subsequently enlisted in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. He served as an officer in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan; then as Regimental Medical Officer with the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in Korea. He later wrote a history of the medical and surgical aspects of that period of the Korean War.
Over the following decades Dr Gandevia was appointed Associate Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the Prince of Wales Hospital in the University of New South Wales, and published several books and academic papers on various aspects of the history of medicine. From 1967 to 1983 he served on the Australian War Memorial Board of Trustees and subsequently as a member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial.
Dr Gandevia was a vigorous advocate of historical scholarship at the Memorial and actively promoted the development of research and publication in Australian military history.