1821: The Migration of Revolutionary Ideas

Athens Speakers, on 15 February 2021

British School at Athens

Ada Dialla: ‘The Revolutionary Idea of Human Rights and the Greek 1821’

The aim of my presentation is to discuss the emergence of the modern concept of human rights, a concept very much associated with the abolitionist discourse against the slave trade. In the aftermath of the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) the discourse of enslavement (sklavia) was in use in the environment of the Greek speaking intellectuals in order to delegitimize the sovereignty of Ottoman rule. The issue of enslavement (sklavia) linked with the idea of human rights, humanitarianism and in that respect with the idea of a legitimate struggle of the Ottoman subjects against an ‘illegitimate’ and ‘barbarian’ sovereign.

Ada Dialla is Associate Professor of European and Russian History at the Department of Theory and History of Art, School of Fine Arts (Athens) and until recently was chair of the Department. She was a visiting researcher at the Russian Academy of Science (St Petersburg), at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris) and at the Jordan Center for Advanced Studies in Russia of New York University. She is a member of the Scientific Committee and the Editorial Board of the journal Historein. A Review of the Past and Other Stories. She is a founding member and chairman of the Athens based Governing Board of the Research Center for the Humanities. Her recent book is co-authored with Alexis Heraclides and is entitled Humanitarian Intervention in the Long Nineteenth Century. Setting the Precedent (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015).

Efi Gazi: ‘Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος: Migrant Ideas, Travelling Concepts and Changing Political Languages in the Age of the Greek Revolution’

The paper traces the roots of the motto Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος. It explores how the motto emerged and which meanings ‘liberty’ and ‘death’ acquired in the context of the American and the French Revolution. The paper discusses how the motto became associated with radically new ideas about rights and independence.  Subsequently, the paper explores how the motto was adopted by the Philiki Etaireia but also how it appeared in a variety of contexts during the Greek Revolution, either as a war cry or as a flag symbol or as an emblem. Through an analysis of the meanings of the motto, the paper highlights conceptualizations and understandings of ‘liberty’ and ‘death’ which developed in the process of revolutionary rhetoric and politics. The analysis particularly focuses on transformations and appropriations of ideas and concepts in processes of transnational, transcontinental and transregional ‘migration’.  The paper argues that diverse itineraries of ideas and concepts in the age of the Greek Revolution contributed to the articulation of new political languages with a particular emphasis on liberty and independence.

Philiki Etaireia Flag, National Historical Museum, Athens

Efi Gazi is Associate Professor of Modern History in the Social and Education Policy Department, University of the Peloponnese (Greece). She studied history at the Universities of Athens (Greece) and Essex (UK). She received her PhD from the European University Institute in Florence (1997) and conducted post-doctoral research at Princeton University (USA). She has taught at the Universities of Athens (GR), Crete (GR), Thessaly (GR) and Brown (USA). Her publications include Scientific National History. The Greek Case in Comparative Perspective (2000), The Second Life of the Three Hierarchs. A Genealogy of the “Helleno-Christian Civilization” (in Greek, 2004), ‘Fatherland, Religion, Family’. History of a Slogan (1880-1930) (in Greek, 2011), Unknown Land. Ideas about Greece and Europe in the beginning of the 20th century (in Greek, forthcoming 2020).  She has published articles and essays on the history and theory of historiography, intellectual and cultural history, public history.

Kostas Tampakis: ‘“A slight idea of Physics” – Revolutionary Ideas and the Natural Sciences before and after the Founding of the Greek State’

The ‘Neo-Hellenic Enlightenment’ is a term that has been used to identify a loosely affiliated network of Greek-speaking, Orthodox scholars active in appropriating Western Enlightenment ideas to fuel a revolutionary fervor among their compatriots. In this endeavor, Natural Sciences were seen as a crucial component of awakening the Greek ethnos, the genos or the phyli.  This is the reason that many of the pre-Revolutionary scholars, Rigas Velestinlis among them, wrote popularizing ‘physical’ or ‘philosophical’ treatises. After the founding of the Greek State, the Professors of the Natural Sciences in the University of Athens, in the Polytechnic School and in the Military Academies, continued to invoke similar ideas, alongside the sacrifice of the 1821 revolutionaries, in order to justify  Greek scientific practice. In my talk, I will describe these efforts, before and after the founding of Greek state.

Kostas Tampakis is an Associate Researcher in the Sector of Neohellenic Research, Institute of Historical Research, National Hellenic Research Foundation. After completing his PhD in the History of Science in the University of Athens, he has been a Visiting Scholar  in the History and Philosophy of Science Department, University of Cambridge, a Research Associate in Darwin College, University of Cambridge and the Ted and Elaine Athanassiades Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, Princeton University. His research interests include the cultural and social history of science in the Modern Greek State, the history of the relations of Science and Orthodox Christianity and Science and Literature.

Event listings: CHS and BSA

Introduction to the Event

London Speakers and Abstracts

%d bloggers like this: