Lecture by Athanasios Gekas (Assistant Professor, Hellenic Heritage Chair in Modern Greek History, Department of History, York University), “Vanished States. A Regional Approach to the History of the Greek State in the Long Nineteenth Century (1798-1912)”
The recent controversy surrounding Greece has revived debates on the history of Greek state formation. In the past, historians and social scientists of Modern Greece suffered from the ‘backwardness syndrome’ - how ‘modern’ the Greek State was in comparison to European states - and placed too much emphasis on the ‘success’ of the nation-state after the revolution of 1821. The talk suggests that we think more broadly chronologically and conceptually to include various island states, now vanished, that formed and were gradually absorbed by the Greek Kingdom during the long nineteenth century: the Ionian State, the Principality of Samos and the Cretan Republic. A regional approach allows us to compare and contrast the various trajectories and regional histories of economies, institutions and identities and avoid a teleological and homogenizing approach to the formation of the Greek State. The history of these states explains the dependencies of Modern Greece to colonial empires (British, French, Russian) and the Ottoman Empire during a period of escalating antagonisms in the Mediterranean and stresses continuities instead of presumed radical breaks by showing the role of empire on Greek State formation.