Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies
Friday, May 5, 2017
Scheide Caldwell House, Room 103
All Roads Lead to Constantinople: Re-Historicizing Greek-British Relations in The Travellers and The Last Man
This chapter examines two British novels written during the Greek War of Independence, both of which feature British characters who journey to Greece to fight on behalf of the Greeks: Tertius Kendrick’s The Travellers (1825) and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826). Drawing from Mark Phillips’s contention that Romantic literary history “appeal[ed] to sensibilities more immediately engaged with thoughts and feelings” (On Historical Distance 141), I demonstrate how Kendrick and Shelley used personalized narratives associated with Greece’s Byzantine past to reconceptualize Romantic-era British-Greek intercultural relations and encourage readers to affectively engage with Greece’s bid for independence. As I suggest, however, Kendrick and Shelley approach Greece’s Byzantine past with different political and ideological imperatives, revealing the various ways in which Greece’s history could be deployed by British writers. In The Travellers, Kendrick establishes a friendship between his protagonists Alexis Condili and Sidney Melcombe by having the men meet at the gravesite of Theodore Palaeologus, a relative of the last Byzantine emperor (Constantine XI) who lived in England in the early seventeenth century and whose burial plaque can to this day be found in Cornwall. Sidney’s resolution to join the Greeks in their fight for liberation after his meeting with Alexis at Palaeologus’s burial site invites readers to acknowledge the connection between the current British Empire and the past Byzantine Empire, i.e. the Eastern Roman Empire, which many Britons considered to be their own cultural legacy. Kendrick suggests that the Byzantine Empire, rather than Ancient Greece, represents Greece’s “genealogical link to the West’s cultural origins” (Gourgouris, Dream Nation 259) and can, thus, help to consolidate the transnational bond between Greece and Britain. In The Last Man, Shelley features Constantinople, the Byzantine capital, as the site where the illicit affair between her protagonists Lord Raymond and Princess Evadne encounters its ultimate breakdown, culminating with the Greek woman cursing her English lover with a Plague that kills him before spreading throughout the world. Importantly, Raymond and Evadne’s affair is a personalized critique of imperial aggression and collusion, with the two characters’ political aspirations serving as an indictment of both British and Greek expansionist desires. Constantinople, a topos that for Greeks simultaneously evoked past, present, and future imperial memories and ambitions (Herzfeld, Ours Once More 119), provided Shelley with an ideal locale through which to warn against a form of British-Greek transnational relations that encouraged aggressive imperialist policies by both countries. During a period when “imperialist and nationalist forces surged, and West and East became reified structures” (Van Steen, Liberating Hellenism 13), Kendrick and Shelley historicize the Greek war in order to scrutinize Britain’s Mediterranean foreign policy and the role the country would play in an independent Greece. If the Romantic era was the age wherein “Britons needed to learn to see themselves as members of a nation whose geopolitical destiny was intimately bound up with those of the rest of the world” (Gottlieb, Romantic Globalism 148), Kendrick’s and Shelley’s literary histories interrogate the consequences of Britain’s role in this increasingly global world.
Alexander Grammatikos is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English Language and Literature at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada). He holds an Honours B.A. and a Certificate in Hellenic Studies from Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada) and an M.A. with Distinction from The University of York (York, England). His dissertation contributes to the field of British Romantic Hellenism by emphasizing the diversity and complexity of Romantic-era writers’ attitudes towards, and portrayals of, Modern Greece. Specifically, his dissertation emphasizes the ways that early nineteenth-century British literature about contemporary Greece helped to strengthen British-Greek intercultural relations and, ultimately, to situate Greece within a European sphere of influence. Alex has published articles and reviews in the European Romantic Review, Keats-Shelley Journal, and Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies. His research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, a Carleton University Graduate Scholarship, and a Gordon J. Wood Graduate Scholarship in English.
The Institutionalization of the Greek Civil War Refugees in Bulgaria: Past and Present
This presentation will provide extensive insight into the history and the socio-political organisation of the refugees of the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) in Bulgaria. Following their flight from Greece, large populations of refugees of the Greek Civil War were stripped of their citizenship and were thus forced to dwell for more than thirty yearsaway from their ‘homeland’in countries of the Eastern Bloc. According to the 1963 census, implemented following executive orders of the Greek Communist Party, more than 6.500 of these refugees were living in Bulgaria. One year before, the communist refugees in Bulgaria created the Democratic Organisation of Culture and Education (DOME). DOME was an “imperium in imperio” with important authorities inexile, particularly for matters concerning education, culture and social allocations. Refugees, both communists and non-communists, depended on DOME for housing, work and family reunification. In its endeavors, DOME followed and vigorously applied the exact instructions of the Greek Communist Party’s Central Committee, which was established in exile, as well as the Bulgarian Communist Party and state rule. In this context, DOME was an institution incorporating all the Greek refugees in socialist Bulgaria but still one led by communist authorities. Nevertheless, the analyses of the category of ‘refugees’ that I propose will show that within it we will find women and men, partisans and civil, communists and ‘dissidents’, Greeks and Macedonians; in other words a rather incongruous population that should have become a homogenous one, nationally and politically. This presentation will address the impact of the institution on the subjects, combining archival investigation with anthropological fieldwork carried out in Greece and in Bulgaria. Considering the refugee-subject according to the Foucauldian notion of subject and adhering to Mary Douglas’s reasoning on How Institutions Think, this paper will discuss the mechanisms that shape the ‘social entity’ of refugees in a context of a national (and ‘communist’) order. Lastly, having as an initial departure point the ethnographic present of the non repatriated refugees in Bulgaria - where a new DOME was found in 1995- and those repatriated in Greece, my presentation examines concepts of ‘homeland’ according to nationality, locality and memory and the part that institutions hold in constructing identities following the end of the Civil War.
Maria Kokkinou is a Ph.D. student at EHESS, Institut Interdisciplinaire d’Anthropologie du Contemporain (IIAC), in Paris. She holds an MA in Social Science, with a specialisation in History of Migration from EHESS and a BA in Social Anthropology and History from the University of Aegean. Her Ph.D. field research is supported with a mobility grant by EHESS, « aide à la recherche du terrain », the A.G. Leventis Foundation and a mobility grant from École Française d’Athènes. She coordinates Atelier Balkans – an interdisciplinary workshop for doctoral students and young researchers. In her dissertation she examines the role of a specific political and cultural institution (DOME) and its impact on the life of exiled refugees of the Greek civil war (1946-1949) who lived in Bulgaria during socialism. Her research, precisely, analyses the terms under which the subjects are subordinate to power and the varied content of national identity through the different generations of refugees ‘when exile is ended’. Her main research interests embrace, but are not limited to, migration, the Balkans and anthropological theory.
The Past of Development:
Classical Antiquity and the Ideology of the Dictatorship of 21 April
The ideology of the Greek military dictatorship of 1967–1974 is perhaps best known for its convolutedness, slogans and trite nationalist exceptionalism. It is also regarded as the final and anachronistic chapter in a hegemonic genealogy of Cold War nationalist anti-communism (ethnikofrosyni, or “national mindedness”), which saw an instrumentalization of classical antiquity as an anti-communist apparatus. However, the Aprilians (Οι Απριλιανοί, the sobriquet for the dictatorial triumvirate Papadopoulos, Pattakos and Makarezos) and their ideologues did not subscribe to ethnikofrosyni, and primarily refracted classical culture as a conduit towards national economic and social development. This ideological politics of futurity is usually elided by scholarship which focuses on the regime’s anachronisms, as is the equation of classical pioneerism and contemporary patriotism with productivism and technocratization. This becomes particularly palpable across the seven volumes of Georgios Papadopoulos’ speeches, for instance, published serially under the title Our Creed (ΤοΠιστεύωΜας) and intended “to be studied carefully and thoroughly by all Greeks”. It is indicative that in his speeches, Papadopoulos’s incitements to emulate the ancients stretched beyond the more obvious fields of science and technology (where, for instance, Democritus’ atomic theory was relayed as inspiration for modern research in physics). The dictator’s incitements to “philosophize as Greeks on behalf of mankind”, to “develop [their] mental faculties” and become “the society that mankind must follow” speaks to a vague instrumentalization of Classical philosophy to serve a fixation on national progress and international competitiveness. In a similar vein, in his speeches addressed to representatives of the Greek maritime industry, Papadopoulos took recourse to the Greeks’ seafaring spirit (the Argonautical expedition, the Battle of Salamis) with little regard for the discrepancies between myth and history, and in a manner that equated military naval expeditions with new shipping trade routes to be explored. Ultimately, and despite the diverse cultural texts under appropriation, these examples share an underlying assumption that classical culture is a medium through which Greece will develop and prosper. By investigating the dictatorship’s ideological politics of futurity, my paper will unfold the contiguities between ethnikofrosyni and an emergent ideology of developmentalism in postwar Greece, whose intricacies remain to be explored. In so doing, I hope to demonstrate how nationalist anti-communism became subsumed within the fetishization of the ancient “miracle” under the regime, which nevertheless shared some underlying frames of reference with one another. Furthermore, with this framework in mind I contend that much of what appears paradoxical about the dictatorship’s ideology (including the Aprilians’ exaltation of the democracy of Classical Athens) can be unravelled and opened up to new readings of how the regime participated in, and capitalized on, dominant ideologies in the period 1967–1974.
Jessica Kourniakti is a DPhil candidate in Modern Greek at the University of Oxford. She holds a B.A. in Ancient History from the University of Bristol (2010), an M.A. in Reception of the Classical World from UCL (2011), and has recently served as Teaching Fellow in Modern Greek Literature at Oxford University (2016-17). Her doctoral thesis converges around some of the most notoriously archaeocentric discourses, spectacles and projects associated with the Greek military dictatorship of 1967–1974, and attempts to strike a balance between placing them in context and investigating the regime’s aesthetics of appropriation. Her research interests include Modern Greek history, classical reception and Greek popular culture, particularly from the 1960s onwards.
Exploring the Changes in Social Movements Repertoire in Times of Crisis: The Case of Social Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies
The eruption of the economic crisis in Europe in 2008 was combined with the implementation of a series of austerity measures in the Southern European countries. Due to the inability to cover its large public deficit, Greece has experienced a plethora of public cuts and fiscal adjustment policies. The sharp increase in unemployment and taxation brought severe consequences in the country’s political and social environment. In what was and still is in a way a European-wide phenomenon, Greek social movements have inaugurated a long anti-austerity campaign. From early on, austerity measures were welcomed with massive demonstrations, protests and marches, while public building occupations and general strikes were everything but rare. This ‘usual’ social movement repertoire of action was coupled with a more practical one. Between 2008 and 2016, the partial collapse of welfare policies and the growing needs of the population for social provisions, caused old and new social movement organizations to shift towards services provision. This alternative repertoire includes: neighborhood assemblies providing free courses to students; social centers organizing regular open markets in which producers sell their products without the intervention of brokers; the increase of workers’ collectives and social cooperatives; initiatives preoccupied with the collection and distribution of food and the organization of soup kitchens. Being part of my PhD research, this paper draws attention on the Social Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies (SSCPs) and the welfare provision coming from bellow. The exclusion of one third of the country’s population from the public healthcare system in conjunction with the reduction of hospitals’ budget and blockage of personnel’s recruitment brought the establishment of SSCPs to the forefront. SSCPs are autonomous voluntary organizations which offer for free primary healthcare services and medicines. They are constituted by doctors and people in solidarity, organized on the basis of direct-democracy and horizontality, while at the same time develop an activist approach against austerity. However, since they do not constitute a unified entity, SSCPs present great variation in terms of organizational structure, resources, operation and approaches towards institutional and movement actors. In this paper, I explore the growth and development of SSCPs as well as their relation to the anti-austerity campaign. Based on qualitative semi-structured interviews and participant observation on 11 SSCPs in Athens, Thessaloniki and Rethimno, the paper has two aims: first, to analyze the contentious mechanisms which facilitated the emergent of this hands-on productive repertoire; second, to offer empirical insights of social welfare’s provision from bellow by studying that most complex of relationships, the SSCPs’ relations with the state. Based on these two dimensions, this research enriches the literature of Contentious Politics and poses questions about changes in the characteristics of social movements organizations in times of crisis.
Haris Malamidis is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science and Sociology member of the Center of Social Movement Studies (Cosmos) at Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy. He received his B.A. from the Department of International Economic Relations and Development, Democritus University of Thrace (Greece) and his M.A. from the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg (Sweden). Haris conducts his doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Donatella della Porta and Lorenzo Bosi and seeks to explore how the relationship of social movements with the state is being shaped during periods of crisis. His main research interests include contentious politics, grassroots organizations, solidarity economy and organizational studies.
The Greek-Christian Elites of Thessaloniki Facing the Holocaust: Actions, Attitudes and Motivations
Within a few months of 1943, the overwhelming majority of the members of the historic Jewish community of Thessaloniki were transported from their homes, in cattle cars, to be exterminated in the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. Thessaloniki, a major port city in the Balkans and Greece’s second largest city, has the sad privilege of having lost one of the largest percentages of Jewish population in Europe during the Second World War. Almost ninety-five percent of the city’s 50,000 Jews did not survive the war, most of them deported and exterminated in Poland. This was not a fringe event in the city’s history. Rather, the Jews constituted a large percentage of Thessaloniki’s population, with a long presence in the city, who contributed to the social, economic, political and cultural life. Their suffering was felt by all the citizens and beyond. The purpose of this study is to reexamine aspects of these tragic events on the local level and enrich our knowledge of this period by considering the reactions of several actors to the Nazi anti-Jewish measures in the city. The attitudes of the local Greek population during the Holocaust had not been studied until recently. Only in the last few years have historians integrated this local perspective into the research of the Holocaust in Thessaloniki and started to look into the stance of the war-time Greek-Christian citizens, how they reacted to the antisemitic agenda of the Nazis, and their key motivations during that period. This study examines the role of Thessaloniki’s institutions such as the City authorities, the Church, the Chamber of Commerce, the Unions of Journalists and Lawyers, as well as the bureaucratic mechanisms which were in place and either implemented parts of the Nazi policies or, instead, tried to save the persecuted Jews. To do so, we focus on case studies around key events, such as the call for slave labor of all Jewish males, the destruction of the Jewish cemetery of the city—a unique event in occupied Europe—and, lastly, the implementation of the Nazi antisemitic laws on the local level. Examining in detail many of these local actors—government officials, elites, heads of institutions and associations—the research has been able to highlight their role and help us elaborate upon the distinction between collaborators and bystanders, a common theme related to the Holocaust, where the limits are often unclear. It tries to answer questions such as whether these local decision-makers had room to maneuver, what did the Greek population know with regards to the suffering of the Jews, and what did they finally do about it. The research incorporated various archives of government agencies, institutions and other organizations, such as professional associations, the Church and the University, mostly in Thessaloniki—often for the first time. At the same time, it consulted sources located all around the world in order to build a more complete, multi-angle perspective.
Leon Saltiel is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies of the University of Macedonia, in Thessaloniki, Greece, where he is using local and foreign archives to research the reactions by different actors to the anti-Jewish measures and eventually the deportation of the Jews in Thessaloniki. Leon was a Fulbright Scholar at Georgetown University, earning a master’s degree in Foreign Service, and he holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Macedonia. Leon has received fellowships, among others, from the German Marshall Fund, Yad Vashem, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and the American Academy of Achievement. He has been invited to present his work by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, Humboldt University (Berlin), the Technical University of Berlin, the European University Institute (Florence), the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the Mémorial de la Shoah (Paris) and many others. During 2013-14, he curated the exhibit entitled, “Salonika: epicenter of the Destruction of the Jews of Greece,” at the Mémorial de la Shoah. His article, “Dehumanizing the Dead: The Destruction of Thessaloniki’s Jewish Cemetery in light of new sources,” appeared in Yad Vashem Studies (42:1) in July 2014.
Neo-Hellene Problem in the Ottoman Empire: 1830 – 1878
I argue through the example of the Ottoman plans for the deportation of Greeks in 1869 that the Ottoman Naturalization Law of 1869 did not intend to create a more inclusive imperial identity; rather it aimed to establish and maintain the control of the state over the subject peoples, by facilitating expatriation, displacement, naturalization, and the loss of citizenship. In their attempts to modernize sociopolitical orders that had come to seem backward by mid-century, Ottoman bureaucrats tried to adopt models regarded as successful in the West. To this end, they decoupled citizenship from older ascriptive categories—i.e., ethnic, social, or confessional status—replacing them with more universal civic definitions. This reconceptualization of citizenship—and by extension the relationship between the state and subject/citizen—emerged as a core issue of redefining statehood in most non-western states, from China to Iran. Through examination of individual cases as well as bureaucratic and diplomatic correspondence, my paper examines the practical ramifications of the Ottoman Naturalization Law for the “Neo-Hellene” population of the Empire. This new law sought to identify, and ultimately expel, select ethno-religious communities deemed to be “undesirable.” In the 1860s, the Ottoman state faced a constant threat of separatism from non-Muslim populations, and reacted by creating an exclusivist imperial citizenship and denaturalizing those populations. Most importantly, this denaturalization process would entail the deportation (tebʿid) of significant portions of the native Ottoman population, most of whom were Greeks by nationality. My paper contextualizes this “Neo-Hellene” problem of the Ottoman state beginning in the 1830s, and provides a detailed analysis of the expulsion plans, outlined in hundreds of pages of commission reports prepared by Ottoman officials. Examining how policy choices and mass deportations of Greeks in the Empire reflected new approaches to imperial citizenship, my paper advances historical arguments that come to bear on the study of genocide in the Middle East, from the mid-nineteenth through early twentieth century. I argue that ostensibly liberal/secular definitions of citizenship actually acted to marginalize those people who under earlier legal regimes had enjoyed some kinds of protection, if not full rights of political participation. This shift in the definition of citizenship in fact laid the conceptual foundations for subsequent genocidal policies against marginalized populations.
Berke Torunoglu is currently completing his Ph.D. in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a B.A. degree in International Relations and an M.A. in History at Bilkent University. His dissertation “Imperial Citizens: Autocracy, Citizenship and Subjecthood in the Ottoman and Russian Empires, 1856-1876,” offers the first comparative history of imperial citizenship in the Ottoman and Russian Empires. Based on two years of research in Turkey, Russia, and the United Kingdom, his work argues that citizenship laws promulgated in these two competing powers during the second half of the nineteenth century did not intend to create a more inclusive imperial identity, but rather aimed to establish and maintain control of the state over the subject peoples. His first book, Murder in Salonika 1876: A Tale of Apostasy and International Crisis, was a monographic study focusing on the events surrounding the murder of French and German consuls at Salonika in May 1876 and the following international crisis. Currently, he is teaching a course on Displacement, Immigration and Genocide in the Middle East, 1815 – 1948 at UW-Madison, and he also works as a reference editor for the History of Cartography Project housed at the Geography Department.
Last updated 4/6/2017