Main speaker: Stathis Gourgouris (Columbia University)
What is the role of the nation in today’s social and political landscape? What aspirations of social cohesion, equality, longevity and prosperity are expressed through the nation as both a symbolic structure and an ongoing sociopolitical project? To what extent are these aspirations disrupted and undermined, always in the name of the nation? What projects of violence, erasure and disavowal lie behind the national fantasy? How do they still haunt the national everyday? How does the nation still matter and could it also matter differently?
In the week celebrating the 200 years since the Greek War of Independence, we want to return to these questions in the frame of our Local Cases, Global Debates series. Indeed, Greece has been a prime example of a modern nation-building process, involved in the dynamics of enlightenment, ethnicity, (crypto)colonialism, orientalism, capital extractionism and the North-South dialectic. Modern Greek studies, as a field, has been framed time and again as a response to such questions.
Rethinking Modern Greek Studies proposes to re-visit a classic text of the field: Stathis Gourgouris’s Dream Nation: Enlightenment, Colonization and the Institution of Modern Greece, published in the 1990s, in a period of heightened nationalist feeling esp. in the Balkans. We invite Stathis Gourgouris to join us for an open discussion on the legacies and the contemporary relevance of his 1996 influential monograph. Joined by colleagues in the field, we want to reflect both on the national/postnational legacies of Hellas, but also on the changes in Modern Greek Studies since the first publication of Dream Nation.
We are, of course, mindful of the moment this discussion is being held, in all the political complexity as well as the celebratory overtones currently experienced in Greece, and we aim to take this critically into account.
Dream Nation: 200 years on, will be followed by What Greece? an open-mic event on April 21, and “We have never been racist”: Rethinking Race and Ethnicity in Greece, on 17 May: these webinars comprise our network’s tripartite contribution to debates around the bicentennial of the 1821 Greek War of Independence by engaging with scholars, artists, filmmakers, and authors in different formats.
On the occasion of this webinar, we will also be launching the new dedicated website of our network under the title “Greek Studies Now"
About the roundtable series:
Under the general title “Modern Greek Studies and Beyond: Local Cases, Global Debates”, the roundtable discussions will bring local case studies from Greek culture, society, history, and politics to bear on larger and timely theoretical, political, and cultural debates: debates on ecocriticism, biopolitics and race, the relevance of contemporary (Greek) art, languages of futurity from the European and Global South, and COVID-19 as a transversal crisis.
By inviting speakers situated (mainly or partly) in Modern Greek studies alongside speakers working in other fields, we will explore how cases from modern and contemporary Greek culture, politics, and history can be relevant for scholars whose work is not (only) situated in Modern Greek Studies, and ask how Modern Greek studies could be repositioned through an engagement with such global debates.
We aim at inclusivity and diversity in speakers and audiences and at stimulating interdisciplinary dialogues that will take scholars outside the comfort zones of their disciplines. In each roundtable, invited speakers from different disciplines and career stages will converse with each other, in order to promote exchanges among scholars who might normally not sit around the same academic table.
About the network:
“Rethinking Modern Greek Studies in the 21st century: A Cultural Analysis Network” emerged from a partnership between the departments of Modern Greek at Oxford and Amsterdam but brings together scholars in several universities around the world and aims to progressively widen its reach to include more partners and countries. Our inaugural conference in Oxford (January 31- February 1, 2020) was the first meeting place for the formation of a dynamic network of scholars that has been growing ever since (a series of blogposts reflecting on the first meeting of the network are available here). Given the current restrictions that do not allow us to host face-to-face events, we will continue the network’s activities this academic year with this online roundtable series and – if the situation allows it – a 2-day conference in Amsterdam in the fall of 2021.
Participation in the roundtables is free and open to all.
This event will be held online as a Zoom webinar. The event is free but registration is required.
Please register here and you will be emailed a link to join the online event on Zoom.