Friday, November 5th
Panel One: Law and lawlessness (Christine Philliou, Moderator)
Apostolos Delis (Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Rethymno) – “A Hub of Piracy in the Aegean: Syros during the Greek War of Independence”: Corsairing and piracy was a structural element of maritime activity and economy in the Mediterranean during the early modern period. In the Aegean during the long Greek War of Independence (1821-29) the last great episode of Mediterranean piracy in the Age of Sail occurred. Syros, a neutral, but still a disputed zone, became a major hub of piratical transactions, on spoils, ships and people. The settlement of merchants and seafarers in Syros and the capital accumulation during this abnormal period transformed an underdeveloped harbor to an international port after the Greek independence.
Michael Sotiropoulos (British School of Athens) – “The intellectual foundations of the Greek Revolution of 1821”: How did the Greek revolution become a possibility? When and where were revolutionary ideas formed? What role did the trans-national life experiences of many revolutionary actors and their movement across empires play in forging and implementing such ideas? By exploring such questions, the paper seeks to reassess, and give flesh and blood to the intellectual foundations of the Greek revolution.
Will Smiley (University of New Hampshire) – “The violence of the Greek war of independence is legendary”: In the collective memory and nationalist narratives of Greece and in the western imagination, from the paintings of Délacroix to the story of Lord Byron (or biron nam bir milordu, as he appears in Ottoman documents). But it should also be understood as one among many wars that the Ottoman Empire fought, both against rebels and against foreign adversaries, principally Russia. My paper places the Greek war in that context by using the lens of law. I draw on Ottoman archival documents to show that as the Ottoman state adopted draconian policies during the Greek war, condoning widespread enslavement and execution of captives, it selectively drew upon, and rejected, precedents established in wars against Russia. The considerations that shaped these choices illustrate the importance, but also the limits, of conceptions of community and sovereignty in the early nineteenth-century eastern Mediterranean.
Saturday, November 6th
Panel Two: Religion and millets (Christine Philliou, Moderator)
Emily Neumeier (Temple University) – “Improvising Political Identity in Ottoman Greece”: This paper revisits the precipitous rise and equally dramatic fall of Ali Pasha of Epirus, one of the most important yet still under-examined protagonists of the Greek War of Independence. With a special focus on spatial and material evidence, I examine how the vizier spent his entire career as provincial governor reinventing the mechanisms of identity formation in the Ottoman Empire. From architectural inscriptions equating the governor with local kings of classical antiquity, to sponsoring Christian monastic complexes, Ali Pasha—purportedly a Muslim and loyal subject to the sultan—was constantly testing the boundaries of decorum for a person of his political status. As a precondition for the events of 1821, the governor’s improvisational approach to his rule suggests that the outcome of the revolution was by no means inevitable or predestined. Rather, Ali Pasha’s tendency to flip the script invites us to imagine all of the possible alternate histories for Ottoman Greece at this time.
Dimitris Stamatopoulos (University of Macedonia) – “The Ecumenical Patriarchs in the Age of Revolution”: The paper will focus on the ways the Ecumenical Patriarchate dealt with – and ultimately absorbed – the tremendous vibrations caused by the Greek Revolution of 1821 in the Ottoman political system. It will address the problem of the possible ethnic origin of the 4 figures who became patriarchs during the 1820’s, emphasizing the case of Patriarch Agathangelos, who will dramatically close the last phase of this turbulent period. Finally, it will try to explain how, especially due to the latter patriarchy, the Patriarchate moved towards a reconstruction of the relationship between the laity and the clergy, which led to the emergence of “Neo-phanariot families”. The presentation will be based on the use of Greek, Ottoman, English, and Bulgarian sources.
Antonis Hadjikyriacou (Panteion University) and Ali Yaycioglu (Stanford University) – “1821 and the Ottoman age of revolutions: magnates and their regional orders”: This paper enquires into the extent to which 1821 was the result of broader Ottoman processes and phenomena. By shifting attention to the Ottoman age of revolutions, it scrutinizes the economic, social and intellectual legacy of regional magnates in the Balkans, Anatolia and the Arab provinces connecting them to the outbreak of the Greek revolution and its subsequent development. Not simply regional warlords, these magnates helped forge new fiscal and power networks while they reshaped political representation and forms of communication. During this period the empire experienced radical transformations and reconfigurations similar to other polities of the time. The paper will discuss the intertwined nature of local, regional, and imperial dimensions of a global process before, during, and after 1821.”
Panel Three: Italian/Mediterranean/European dimension: (Katerina Lagos, Moderator)
Konstantina Zanou (Columbia University) – “The Greek Revolution from the Italian Shores”: What did the 1821 Revolution mean for the Greeks who never set foot on the soil of what was now becoming Greece? In this paper I focus on the case of an obscure intellectual from the Ionian Islands who spent his life in Italy, Mario Pieri (1776–1852), hoping to tell something about the perceptions of the war from a position far removed from the theatre of battle, as well as of the impact that the Greek Revolution and European philhellenisms had on the peoples of the ‘Greek diasporas’, reshaping even the very meaning of this notion.
Alex Tipei (University of Montreal ) – “Civilization and Nation: Rhetorical Strategies of Independence after the Greek War”: This paper first explores how leaders of the War of Independence and the early Greek state mobilized a specific notion of civilization to curry international, particularly French, support during the 1820s. It then investigates how elites from other parts of Eastern Europe, notably in the Danubian Principalities and the Polish lands, adopted and adapted this rhetorical strategy to promote their own program of independence in the 1830s and 1840s and how potential French patrons responded to their efforts.
Elpida Vogli (Democritus University of Thrace) – “The Politics of Belonging and the Emergence of a Modern Nation State in Southeastern Europe”: My paper focuses on the processes of making the Greek Revolution a legal European movement. The diplomatic movements of its masterminds are analyzed in conjunction with the political developments and mainly with the introduction of the Greek citizenship, which resulted in the internalization of the Greek movement, as well as the creation of the first national state and in the long run the intensification of the national competition among the Christian peoples of Southeastern Europe.
Friday, November 12th
Panel Four: Russian dimension: (Victoria Frede-Montemayor, UC Berkeley, Moderator)
Ada Dialla (Athens School of Fine Arts) – “Uprisings, Rebellions, Revolutions, Civic Wars: Conceptual Oscillations in the European Periphery”: The aim of my paper will be to examine how a local uprising as that in Peloponnese in 1821 from the very beginning turned to be associated with the concept of Revolution and not with the concepts of rebellion or of Civil War as it happened with the Spanish and Italian cases. I addition I will compare the Greek case with the Latin American ones. I am interested to contextualize the concept of Revolution and understand its uses synchronically with the events taking as a vantage point the so-called European periphery which includes the Russian North and the Ottoman South of Europe, the Russian society, and the Revolutionaries themselves.
Lucien Frary (Rider University) – “The Myth and Reality of Russian Intervention and the Greek War of Independence”: The archives generated by the Russian mission in Constantinople in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century reveal that the activity of trans-imperial Greek agents (Venetians, British, and Ottomans) in Russian service inspired dreams of tsarist support for a Christian-led uprising against the sultan. Although St. Petersburg officially sought to prevent insurrections by “freedom fighters,” the expectation of Russian intervention drew on a rich tradition of conspiracies and prophecies that triggered the revolt to break out when it did. The myth of Russian striving for the dominance of the Orthodox East may have ended (at least for a time) with the Peace of Adrianople (1829). However, the dream of Greek national deliverance became a reality and a new phase of Hellenic history began.
Viktor Taki (Edmonton) – “Between Greeks and Romanians: Russian Policy in Moldavia and Wallachia in the Wake of 1821”: The paper will start with a discussion of the Moldavian and Wallachian boyars’ liaisons with Philiki Etaireia. It will then address the role of the boyars in shaping the Russian policy in the principalities after 1821. Finally, the paper will assess the impact of the Greek War of Independence and the Russian responses to it on modern Romanian nationalism.
Saturday, November 13th
Panel Five: Cultural Representations of the Revolution (Simos Zenios, UCLA)
Vasiliki Dimoula (University of Vienna) – “Drawing on the ‘Curtain of Futurity’: Hegel, Zambelios, and Shelley on the meaning of the Revolution”: Τhis paper brings together Romantic discourses on the Revolution around the notion of a retrospective understanding of history (Nachträglichkeit). Although its main focus is the Greek War of Independence in 1821, it introduces the discussion via a reference to Hegel’s writings on the French Revolution. In his Introduction to the Philosophy of History, Hegel thinks of the Revolution as a missed opportunity, whose meaning is not clearly to be recovered at a future time. Discussion then turns to Spyridon Zambelios, the founder of Greek national historiography, who drew heavily on Hegel in his own philosophy of history (ιστοριονομία). 1821 is presented in Zambelios’s work as the revelatory moment, which retrospectively will give meaning to the past of the Greek nation, the moment that will uncover the unity (ολομέλεια) of the scattered fragments of time past. It is in this frame that he sets out to rehabilitate the Byzantium as an integral part of the Greek national identity. His Byzantine Studies begin with the image of the Byzantium as a corpse, whose scattered organs the philosopher-historian will try to bring together and endow with life, because they prefigured, unawares, the national Renaissance. However, the rhetoric of Byzantine Studies is one of delays, crooked paths, and obstacles, that render very problematic any unity of the “living” national organism. Zambelios seems to be missing the challenge to convey the intended meaning to the War of Independence: as in Hegel, Nachtraglichkeit remains in Zambelios colored by its later Freudian connotation of trauma. My reference to Hegel aims at broadening the narrow ideological perspective in which Zambelios has been received. And so does the discussion that closes the paper, examining the same notion of Nachträglichkeit in Percy Byssche Shelley’s philhellenic drama “Hellas” (1821): the Greek War of Independence is for Shelley doomed to failure and will have only existed in the images that the poet draws “on the curtain of futurity”, as he puts it in the Foreword to this work.
Foteini Dimirouli (University of Oxford) – “‘Kleftika’ as a window into the prerevolutionary society”: The folk songs “kleftika”, widely popular in the prerevolutionary era, are a rich source of material from which to outline the social contours which paved the way to the Revolution of 1821. By outlining a set of notions relating to heroic masculinity and male valor (“timi”, “andreia”), but also utilising humorous and ironic tropes, they provide a window into the social imaginary of the era, including dominant perceptions of the self, gender norms, and the primacy of community-making.
Marios Hatzopoulos (University of Nicosia) – “Counting down time for Revolution”: Time is a crucial factor for any human endeavor, all the more so for a revolution. Greek revolutionaries were arguably preoccupied with time: from Rigas Pheraios’ War Song (“Until when, o brave young men…”) up to Alexander Ypsilantis’ procalmations (“the hour has come!”), time is taken into account, counted through and even engineered to suit a given political purpose. Focusing on the Greek revolutionary proclamations, this paper will seek to study how time was used to make the common people rise up in revolt. To this end the Greek revolutionaries appealed to a particular conception of linear, measurable and finite time, in contrast to the cyclical and never-ending time of peasants, thereby grafting the nationalist cause onto the timeframe of the pre-existing prophetic traditions about the coming of a messianic time of deliverance («καιρός») for the Ottoman-ruled Orthodox.
Panel Six: Philhellenism as a Literary Movement (Eva Prionas, Moderator)
Alexander Grammatikos (Langara College) – “Lord Byron’s Two Trips to Greece”: On his first visit to Greece in 1809 to 1811, Lord Byron was fascinated by modern Greece’s foreignness and the personal freedom the region allowed him; during his stay, he did everything from experiment with his sexuality to study Romaic, a language largely unknown in Europe. Only 12 years later, in 1823, when Byron travelled to Greece to assist with the War of Independence, the poet had to shift his mentality and begin to see Greece not as the foreign topos of his more carefree youth, but as a potential nation that could take its place within a broader Europe.
In this talk, I compare Byron’s two trips to Greece and examine how, and to what degree, his views on Greece and Greeks changed. Should we view Byron’s trips as completely different (one for pleasure, the other for business) or can we detect parallels between the two visits? Does Byron transition from a 23-year-old university student intrigued by klepht culture to a 36-year-old would-be statesman who knew that the Western-educated Alexandros Mavrokordatos, rather than Theodoros Kolokotronis, was better suited to the task of creating a Europeanized Greece – or does this simplify Byron’s mindset and the geopolitical moment he encountered?
These kinds of questions, and more, will be discussed in a chapter that seeks to broaden current critical discourse about Greece’s (supposed) transition from orientalized, Romaic community to Europeanized Hellenic nation. What Byron understood keenly, this talk will argue, is that a modern Greece would need to balance and merge Romaic and Hellenic identities, an insight that continues to inform the ways in which we discuss the Greek nation and Greek identity even today.
Simos Zenios (UCLA) – “Testing and Contesting Power in Philhellenic Thought and Literature”: In this paper I identify a strain of Philhellenic discourse that questions and qualifies revolutionary praxis and, in particular, revolutionary violence, insofar as the latter is understood as a means toward the foundation or restoration of state sovereignty. Surveying key texts from this current of Philhellenism—developed primarily in the traditions of German Idealism and British Romanticism—I put forward two interlocking arguments. First, that this orientation diverges from earlier mainstream traditions of 18th-century Hellenism, which were grounded on the conceptual repertoire of classical republicanism. Second, that the “critique of violence” they propose has to face the dual challenge of resisting, on the one hand, a resolutely historicizing and critical understanding of the Greek tradition that would render it irrelevant for the present and, on the other hand, an aestheticizing impulse that would equate revolution with subjective Bildung.
Ewa Roza Janion (University of Warsaw) – “Literary Outlooks on Greek Women’s Captivity. Polish Philhellenic Literature in European Contexts”: During the outburst of the 1821 Greek Revolution, Poland was partitioned by three neighbor states. As a result, freedom, the first part of the famous alternative at the Revolution’s banner “Freedom or Death”, was often understood in Poland in political and cultural terms: as state sovereignty or as individual liberty of noble men. However, when Polish literature of the time speaks about Greek women, the kind of freedom at stake of the war is often the lack of indirect coercion, which usually means freedom from service to the enemy and from sexual violence. Speaking more generally, this distinction between male and female freedom is visible in other European philhellenic works.
Starting from this point, the talk discusses the representation of women captured by the enemy in literature on the Greek Revolution. It asks about the political meanings of those images, their sources, and the employed conventions. The questions addressed specifically to the Polish literature would be: (1) to what degree is the old-Polish theme of Ottoman slavery (“jasyr”) used in philhellenism, and (2) can the latest debates on the serfdom of Polish peasants shed some new light on the images of Ottoman captivity. The talk focuses on Polish romantic poetry, mainly of Józef Dunin-Borkowski (1809-1843), while works of other Polish romantics (Juliusz Słowacki, Zygmunt Krasiński) and European philhellenes will be employed as context.