“A Model Greek Diaspora: the Greeks in Egypt”
Prof. Alexander Kitroeff, Haverford College
Saturday February 13, 2021 at 1 p.m. CT
This presentation discusses the history of the Greeks in Egypt and how it reflects the experience of Greek diaspora in the modern era, writ large. From the early nineteenth century through to the 1960s, the Greeks formed the largest, most economically powerful, and geographically and socially diverse of all European communities in Egypt. Although they benefited from the privileges extended to foreigners and the control exercised by Britain, they claimed nonetheless to enjoy a special relationship with Egypt and the Egyptians, and saw themselves as contributors to the country’s modernization. Maintaining close relations with Greece, they were the largest and wealthiest Greek diaspora community through the mid-twentieth century. This presentation explores how the Greeks inhabited a space in between their host society Egypt and their Greek homeland while adapting to the changes both countries experienced in the course of the twentieth century. It concludes by contemplating whether the Greek experience in Egypt suggests the diaspora around the world shares common characteristics.
Alexander Kitroeff was born in Athens and educated in the United Kingdom where he received his doctorate degree in modern history from the University of Oxford. He is currently Professor of History at Haverford College in Pennsylvania and has taught at several other institutions including the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at Queens College CUNY, the Onassis Center for Hellenic Studies at New York University, The American College of Greece and College Year in Athens. His research focuses on identity in Greece and its diaspora on in a broad range from politics and sports, on which he has published extensively. His most recent books are The Greeks and the Making of Modern Egypt (2019) and Greek Orthodoxy in America: a modern history (2020.) He has also collaborated with film director Maria Iliou as historical consultant in several documentary films including “The Journey: the Greek Dream in America”; “Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City” and “Athens Between East & West, 1821-1896” which is the first of a 5-part series on the city’s modern history. Kitroeff is currently working on two book projects, a history of AHEPA, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association to mark the organization’s centenary in 2022, and a history of Greek-owned diner restaurants in America.
“(Compulsively) Narrating the Nation: Greece, Formalism and the Uncanny”
Prof. Álvaro Garcia Marin, University of Málaga (Spain)
Saturday February 27, 2021 at 1 p.m. CT
Greece has traditionally been conceived in terms of repetition: rebirth, revival, resurrection. In the attempt to create a modern Greek nation, the signifier «Greece» preexisted the entity that was to be named by it. Consequently, such an entity had to be recurrently reshaped to fit the name and the constellation of memories it evoked, rather than the reverse. Scholarship has usually termed “formalism” this temporal and semiotic displacement inherent in the configuration of the nation.
Since repetition always entails return with a difference, the modern (re)construction of Greece can be linked to the Freudian theory of the uncanny, based indeed in repetition and displaced returns. Employing as a motif the uncanniest figure of the vrykolakas (Greek vampire or revenant), and as a tool the notion of “economy of revenance”, I will read a recurrent narrative structure in Modern Greek literature and film as an (uncanny) allegory of the configuration of the nation through repetition (compulsion) and dissociation.
Álvaro García Marín is a Professor of Modern Greek and Translation Studies at the University of Málaga (Spain). He has also taught at Columbia University and at the University of Seville (Spain), and has worked as a researcher at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Among his publications is the book Historias del vampiro griego ((Hi)stories of the Greek Vampire, CSIC, 2017).
“Visions of Freedom in Greek Political Thought, 1770-1821”
Prof. Paschalis Kitromilides, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and Member of the Academy of Athens
Saturday March 20, 2021 at 1 p.m. CT
This lecturer is a survey of the gradual articulation of the idea of a free and independent polity for the Greek nation as reflected in Greek political thought from the 1770s to the outbreak of the Greek Revolution.
Paschalis Kitromilides was born in Nicosia, Cyprus and is political scientist and intellectual historian. His expertise is on the history of political thought, with focus on the Enlightenment in Southeastern Europe. He is a professor of political science at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and since February 6, 2020, elected full member of the Academy of Athens. He holds a BA in political science and modern European history from Wesleyan University, and an MA and a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University. Prior to assuming his position at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Prof. Kitromilides taught at Harvard University and at Brandeis University. He held visiting academic appointments at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, the European University Institute in Florence and the Harvard University Center for Italian and Renaissance Studies Villa I Tatti, Florence. Professor Kitromilides is a board member of the Hellenic Parliament Academic Council and Director of the Center for Asia Minor Studies, past Director of the Center for Modern Greek Studies at the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens (2000-2011), past President of the Cyprus Research Centre (2006-2009), the European Society for the History of Political Thought (2009-2011) and the Hellenic Political Science Association (1988-1992). A Prolific writer: Prof. Kitromilides’ publications in English include Eleftherios Venizelos: The Trials of Statesmanship (Edinburgh University Press, 2006), Adamantios Korais and the European Enlightenment (Voltaire Foundation, 2010), Enlightenment and Revolution: The Making of Modern Greece (Harvard University Press, 2013), Enlightenment and Religion in the Orthodox World (Voltaire Foundation, 2016), The Enlightenment as Social Criticism: Iosipos Moisiodax and Greek Culture in the Enlightenment Century (Princeton University Press, 1992). In addition to being elected member of the Academy of Athens, Prof. Kitromilides was the recipient of a number of distinguished honors and awards for his scholarship, such as Chavalier de l’ Orde des Palmes académiques, France (2003), Honorary Fellow of the Institute d’ Études Sud-Est Européennes, Romanian Academy (2011), Doctor honoris causa, University of Bucharest (2013), and Commander of the Order of Honor of the Hellenic Republic (2015).
“Fear, Anger, and Democracy’s Future: Lessons from Greek Tragedy”
Prof. Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago
Saturday April 17, 2021 at 1 p.m. CT
At the end of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, the Furies accept the constraints of democratic law, and they also agree to change their sentiments, from backward-looking retributive anger to forward-looking benevolence. My lecture will show the pertinence of these insights for our own time. Analyzing both anger and the fear that so often motivates and accompanies it, I will argue that retributive anger is indeed a poison to democratic institutions, and never mpre dangerous than when inspired by a feeling of helplessness. I conclude by turning to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideas about anger, which are strikingly similar to those of Aeschylus.
Martha Craven Nussbaum is an American philosopher and the current Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, where she is jointly appointed in the law school and the philosophy department. She has a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy, existentialism, feminism, and ethnics, including animal rights. She also holds associate appointments in Classics, Divinity, and Political Science and is a member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a board member of the Human Rights Program. Prior to the University of Chicago, Professor Nussbaum taught at Harvard and Brown. Professor Nussbaum is the author of a number of books, including The Fragility of Goodness (1986), Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education (1997), Sex and Social Justice (1998), Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law (2004), Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership (2006), and From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law (2010). She received the 2016 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy and the 2018 Berggruen Prize.
“The Education of a Cosmopolitan City: Chicago’s Greek Diaspora and the Roots of American Drama”
Kate Miller, Ph.D. Candidate, Classics, University of Chicago
Saturday May 1, 2021 at 1 p.m. CT
At the turn of the 20th century, Chicago became a leading destination for immigrants from Greece to the United States. The city’s rapid demographic changes and increasing ethnic diversity drove attention to what Jane Addams, founder of one of the city’s first and most famous social work organizations, labeled the “so-called problem of Americanization.” Spurred by questions about American culture and inclusion in an age of immigration, Addams and her colleagues embarked on an ambitious project to pioneer a new kind of American theater. It was inaugurated and advanced with two performances—the 1899 Return of Odysseus and 1903 Ajax—acted by Chicago’s Greek residents and performed in a blend of ancient and modern Greek. The questions posed and opportunities offered by these unique productions spoke to urgent, contemporary issues of integration, agency, and cultural value; they not only offer an intimate look at life as part of Chicago’s early Greek diaspora, but at fundamental issues of ethical purpose, multiculturalism, and heritage that have continued to shape the history of the performing arts in the United States.
Caitlin Miller is a PhD candidate in the Department of Classics at the University of Chicago, where she is writing her dissertation on Ancient Greek politics and the history of literature in the fifth-century BCE. She received her undergraduate degree from Yale University in 2016 and has worked on the Open Greek and Latin Project at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. and as Senior Editorial Assistant for the journal Classical Philology.