Talk: Greece’s Megali Idea during and after the First World War

Public Lecture with speaker Dr Marius Turda, Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities at Oxford Brookes University
Glass Tank, Abercrombie, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site
Tuesday, 06 December 2016, 16:00 to 17:30

In 1844, the Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Kolettis (1774-1847), described Greece as a country that included ‘any land associated with Greek history or the Greek race’. This was the first announcement of the ‘Megali Idea’ (‘big idea’), a political philosophy that dominated Greek nationalist debates until 1920. The ‘Megali Idea’ was seen as the only symbol capable of uniting the two centres of Hellenism: Athens and Constantinople (Istanbul). If the War of Independence (1821-1829) succeeded in establishing the former, it was left to the new generation of nationalists, who matured around the end of the nineteenth century, to acquire the latter: “the great capital, the City, the dream and hope of Greeks.” These two centres of Hellenism played a conjoining role in shaping the ethos of Greek irredentist rhetoric during the Balkan and the First World Wars. As I will show in my talk, irredentist nationalists repeatedly argued that Greek culture and civilization could develop naturally only within the historical framework based on the intersection of these two points of national legitimization. As a result, irredentism reclaimed both the classical and the Byzantine traditions as constituent elements of a modern Greek national identity.

This seminar is organized in collaboration with The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum and the Centre for Medical Humanities.

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