Modern Greek Studies Association


Call for Papers:
“1821 in 2021: Rethinking the Birth of Modern Greece”

Special section/issue of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Spring 2021

Guest Editor: Yanni Kotsonis, NYU

General overview:

The two hundred-year anniversary of outbreak of the Greek War of Independence should be an occasion for serious rethinking. The JMGS aims to showcase recent reconsiderations and new directions in the historiography, by scholars working in any discipline of the humanities and/or social sciences. To that end, we issue this call for papers for a special feature entitled “1821 in 2021: Rethinking the Birth of Modern Greece,” to appear in the journal’s May 2021 issue. We especially encourage submissions that present broad and innovative views and foreground that novelty, but which are still based on serious investigation.

We are soliciting proposals in the form of abstracts in English of 350 words by 15 May 2019. Abstracts should be submitted electronically to [email protected].

Commissioned articles of 8,000 words will be due by 28 February 2020, for distribution to outside reviewers. Articles will be subjected to the JMGS’s regular peer review process. Potential contributors should consult the JMGS author guidelines. 


Further rationale and description: 

Scholars have complicated the story of the Greek War of Independence with a European dimension, but Europe itself invites complexity. It was a continent of revolutions and liberalisms, but Europe was not, and would never be, the creature of the progressive Enlightenment alone. The Greek Revolution took place in a moment of reaction and restoration, and the “successful” Greek Revolution can be appreciated alongside the “failed” revolutions of the same period. At the same time, Europe was producing the global age that would provincialize Europe itself: the movement that led to the Greek nation state was linked with movements in Egypt and Lebanon, and with a world of revolutionary foment stretching from Cairo to Philadelphia, from Haiti to Buenos Aires. Greece in turn offered a new model of national revolution and was the start of an Ottoman unravelling that ended with the final anti-Ottoman revolution, that of Turkey itself. 


Internally, too, the revolution can be appreciated as a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-confessional unfolding, and one may reflect on the great diversities that were produced by, or flattened by, the national idea. From the normative base of Greek speaking Orthodox communities, we should also move to Vlachs, Roma, Albanians, and Slavs; to Catholicism and Judaism and the largest casualty of the war, Islam. In our haste to arrive at 1821 or 1832, we may pause to consider the many signs of diversity, some assimilated into the national idea, some demonstrably not, in what amounted to a thoroughgoing demographic revolution.


The anniversary will be an occasion to marvel at or remark on the novelty of the revolutionary decade, to treat it as something other than natural and inevitable. Nevertheless it was the first national European revolution and one of two successful revolutions in Europe of the era of restoration and reaction—somehow Greece emerged at the same moment as Belgium. What made for this success, and in what ways was it successful? If nationalism triumphed, what became of the other main thrusts of the movement, the liberal and the social? 


Methodologically gendered and sexualized understandings of the events invite serious consideration. Large topical gaps also remain, and we invite perspectives and interventions that allow us to investigate the role of women as something more than the exceptions of a few captains and concubines: e.g. to consider the mass mobilization of women behind and on the lines. We are also interested in the ubiquitous peasantries that were at the great battles and campaigns but who have been difficult to incorporate into statues and monuments or even into textbook narratives. 


How was the memory of the revolution created, in books, memoirs, statues, and textbooks, as great individuals but not often as masses? Who was remembered and who was forgotten? What are the monuments and events, and how was the existing material culture of archeological ruins and stones incorporated into a national culture?


We are looking for submissions that offer fresh approaches and new, sound assertions. In broad thematic and methodological terms, topics for submissions may include and are not limited to:


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