Dr. Nathalie Soursos (University of Vienna, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies), "Powerful elites and their foundations. The creation of modern Athens in the 19th century"
Foundations have a long tradition in Greek Orthodox society. With the establishment of the Modern
Greek state in 1830, pre-national foundations were incorporated into the state’s legal and political
system, while new foundations were formed. Especially in Athens, large numbers of private investors
sponsored major institutions. The strength of the »national benefactors« (»εθνικοί ευεργέτες«) enabled
the young and financially weak state to create its educational, cultural, and welfare system, while it also
led to the Greek state’s dependency on private capitals, a probable cause of its institutional weakness
until today. The lecture will provide an exemplary insight into the reasons for the establishment of
foundations, the benefactors’ motivations, and their influence on the state. It will be based on published
and unedited sources covering the period between 1830 and the end of 19th century.