3.4 Marigo Kulukundis: an “Invisible” Captain of Industry

Home Offshore Women Marigo Kulukundis: an “Invisible” Captain of Industry

Dimension of Female Presence in Greek Shipping Industry between the 19th and 20th Centuries

In Greece, the rise of steam navigation (from 1890) led to several family-run shipping companies specializing in tramp trade. In that male-dominated era, the head of the household and his closest male relatives managed these companies and the local and international offices. However, female family members were also shareholders of ships and – albeit informally – played key roles in the family business’ framework, significantly influencing company policies. In this regard, the case of the family Kulukundis from Kasos – which came from humble origins and became a large corporation with hundreds of ships and offices worldwide – seems emblematic. One of the family members was Marigo Kulukundis, sister of the head of the family Ilias Kulukundis.

Since Marigo remained childless for life, the fate of her inheritance became an important economic issue in the framework of the family business. For this reason, relatives affiliated with the family’s company regularly contacted her to inform her about family and business news. Marigo was the main contact of the Kulukundis family in Kasos, playing the role of the family’s “public relations manager” with the community of origin, primarily through charity and other “promotional activities”. Furthermore, she was in charge of managing the family properties on the island and settling marriage issues of the other women in the family.

Marigo maintained her leading role of relational, property and other asset nature in the horizon of family business activities throughout her life, even though her importance was never officially acknowledged in the company documentation in any way. The presence and activities of Marigo, and other women like her, have contributed decisively to the success of their respective family businesses while remaining, however, always “invisible”.

Dimitra-Chrysoula Kardakaris
Ionian University – IMS-Forth

3.4.a

Marigo

Marigo Minaculis-Kulukundis
Fig. 3.4.a – A portrait of Marigo Minaculis-Kulukundis.
(Public Library of Kasos Island)

3.4.b

Marigo’s Husband

Minas Minaculis
Fig. 3.4.b – Minas Minaculis, physician, merchant and Marigo’s husband.
(Public Library of Kasos Island)

3.4.c

Home Sweet Home

Abitazione di Marigo e Minas a Kasos.
Fig. 3.4.c – Marigo and Minas house in Kasos. Today the building houses the Public Library.
(Art Grafix, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

3.4.d

The Forefather

Ilias Georgiou Kulukundis
Fig. 3.4.d – Ilias Georgiou Kulukundis (1856–1926) was Marigo’s father and forefather of the family business empire.

3.4.e

Kasos

Kasos is an island of the Dodecanese in the Aegean Sea. It is a mountainous and constantly windswept island. At the beginning of the 19th century, Kasos had approximately 250 sailing vessels (350 grt) involved in tramp shipping.

Kason nel mediterraneo
Fig. 3.4.e.1 – In the circle, the island of Kasos.
(Conrad Malte-Brun, Carte de la Grece et de l’Archipel, 1833 – David Rumsey Map Collection)
Kasos
Fig. 3.4.e.2 – Kasos’ waterfront today.
(Ioannis Fakis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Kasos costume tradizionale
Fig. 3.4.e.3 – Young woman with the traditional costume of Kasos, c. 1940s.
(Greek Ministry of Foreign Affair, File Kasos Island Dodecanese-A.192.1/1945)

3.4.f

News from Ilias

Fig. 3.4.f – Letter to Marigo from her brother Ilias in Rhodes Island. The letter is dated 1 August 1931.
(Public Archives of Syros Island, Ilias Kulukundis Archive)

3.4.g

From all Over the World

Fig. 3.4.g – An envelope containing a letter from her sister-in-law Eleni from New Castle (PA) in 1937. Marigo constantly received letters and reports from her siblings and nephews who were all over the world.
(Public Archives of Syros Island, Ilias Kulukundis Archive)

3.4.h

Eleni

Eleni Kulukundis
Fig. 3.4.h – Marigo’s sister-in-law Eleni Kulukundis in the 1920s.
(Public Archives of Syros Island, Ilias Kulukundis Archive)

3.4.i

Marigos’s Ships

flotta Atlanticos Co. Ltd
Fig. 3.4.i – Some of the steamships of the Atlanticos Co. Ltd fleet of which Marigo held shares.

3.4.

Manolis and the “R&K”

Manolis Kulukundis
Fig. 3.4.l – Marigo’s nephew Manolis Kulukundis was one of the main protagonists of Greek shipping of the 20th century. In 1921 with his cousin Minas Rethymnis, he founded the “Rethymnis and Kulukundis Ltd.” (R&K) in London, an important shipbroking business that managed many Greek steamships.
(Gelina Harlaftis et alii, Ploto, 2000)