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L’archéologie enragée Archaeology & national identity under the Cretan State (1898 – 1913)

L’archéologie enragée Archaeology & national identity under the Cretan State (1898 – 1913)
L’archéologie enragée Archaeology & national identity under the Cretan State (1898 – 1913)
This thesis deals with the parallel threads of colonial politics, nationalism and archaeology in the Cretan State (1898 – 1913), a semi-autonomous, semicolonial regime, established on the island of Crete by some of the “Great Powers” of the time (Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy). This polity ended 250 years of direct Ottoman rule, in a region inhabited by both Christians – the majority – and Muslims. Some of the most significant archaeological projects began during that period, mainly directed by western archaeological missions. Amidst this setting, a local elite of intermediaries supported Greek irredentism and demanded a nationally “pure” present, heir to an equally “pure” past. At the same time, an obedient stance towards the occupying forces and their archaeological demands secured their individual and collective interests. Both stances lead them to clash with Western archaeologists, Greek archaeologists, and especially the local peasantry, whose behaviour towards antiquities they considered ignorant and non-patriotic.

How did the colonial foundations of Cretan archaeology affect its relationship with Greek nationalism? How was modern archaeology received and “consumed” by the Cretans of the time? In order to answer these questions, I organise my chapters by focusing upon different “groups” of people related to my subject (the Western archaeologists, the local archaeological elites, the Cretan peasants etc.) and studying how their intermingling evolved regarding the management of the material past. Most of my resources are of an archival nature, some of them never published before. They come from personal collections, memoirs, correspondence between key figures, press articles and administrative records. My findings clearly highlight how the Westerners managed to incorporate successfully the Cretan archaeological production within their identity-building, focused on the origins of the European civilisation. This material bond subsidised their collective, “civilised” identity, allowing them the privilege to colonise the world beyond their perception. At the same time, Crete was occupied by the Greek national imagination. The new archaeological narrative was used by the local elites in order to remodel the Cretan society, particularly the most “unruly” parts of it, the rural population, into obedient national subjects. The Cretan peasants reacted to these practices with a remarkable flexibility and resistance, which was evident in both their narrative and activity related to the material remains of the past. The outcomes of my research have wider relevance, especially for studies that may include, among others, topics such as the social history of Crete, archaeology and the politics of identity, ethnocratic applications of archaeology, memory destruction and reconstruction, conflict archaeology and archaeology “from below”.
Varouhakis, Vassilios
d3c293a9-2a3a-4d64-a8b5-2ba62c45392a
Varouhakis, Vassilios
d3c293a9-2a3a-4d64-a8b5-2ba62c45392a
Hamilakis, Yannis
e40e6a1a-e416-4561-bf0d-e9e3337ede6a
Marshall, Yvonne
98cd3726-90d1-4e6f-9669-07b4c08ff1df

Varouhakis, Vassilios (2015) L’archéologie enragée Archaeology & national identity under the Cretan State (1898 – 1913). University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 312pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis deals with the parallel threads of colonial politics, nationalism and archaeology in the Cretan State (1898 – 1913), a semi-autonomous, semicolonial regime, established on the island of Crete by some of the “Great Powers” of the time (Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy). This polity ended 250 years of direct Ottoman rule, in a region inhabited by both Christians – the majority – and Muslims. Some of the most significant archaeological projects began during that period, mainly directed by western archaeological missions. Amidst this setting, a local elite of intermediaries supported Greek irredentism and demanded a nationally “pure” present, heir to an equally “pure” past. At the same time, an obedient stance towards the occupying forces and their archaeological demands secured their individual and collective interests. Both stances lead them to clash with Western archaeologists, Greek archaeologists, and especially the local peasantry, whose behaviour towards antiquities they considered ignorant and non-patriotic.

How did the colonial foundations of Cretan archaeology affect its relationship with Greek nationalism? How was modern archaeology received and “consumed” by the Cretans of the time? In order to answer these questions, I organise my chapters by focusing upon different “groups” of people related to my subject (the Western archaeologists, the local archaeological elites, the Cretan peasants etc.) and studying how their intermingling evolved regarding the management of the material past. Most of my resources are of an archival nature, some of them never published before. They come from personal collections, memoirs, correspondence between key figures, press articles and administrative records. My findings clearly highlight how the Westerners managed to incorporate successfully the Cretan archaeological production within their identity-building, focused on the origins of the European civilisation. This material bond subsidised their collective, “civilised” identity, allowing them the privilege to colonise the world beyond their perception. At the same time, Crete was occupied by the Greek national imagination. The new archaeological narrative was used by the local elites in order to remodel the Cretan society, particularly the most “unruly” parts of it, the rural population, into obedient national subjects. The Cretan peasants reacted to these practices with a remarkable flexibility and resistance, which was evident in both their narrative and activity related to the material remains of the past. The outcomes of my research have wider relevance, especially for studies that may include, among others, topics such as the social history of Crete, archaeology and the politics of identity, ethnocratic applications of archaeology, memory destruction and reconstruction, conflict archaeology and archaeology “from below”.

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More information

Published date: September 2015
Organisations: University of Southampton, Archaeology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 381861
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/381861
PURE UUID: 45c1e064-952d-4e05-aa55-92ad6da9a9db

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Date deposited: 23 Oct 2015 12:45
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 20:23

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