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Hellenism in a Globalised World: Conference Report

submitted by John Fardoulis on 27.12.2010

The Modern Greek Studies Association, Australia & New Zealand (MGSAANZ) recently held their 10th Biennial Conference, at Macquarie University. Either by chance or good management, Kytherians were prolific at the conference, representing nearly a quarter of attendees.

Professor George Leontsinis presented a case-study of the impact that migration had on the life and deeds of first generation migrant G. Kassimatis, who settled in Tasmania.

Professor Athanasia Glycofrydi-Leontsini presented an interesting paper on ‘The Rhetoric of Nation building during the Neohellenic Enlightenment and the Evolution of the Notion of Greekness in the 20th century’. An interesting quote that I took away from this presentation was that part of Ethnicity is a “unity of historical consciousness”.
Personally, I’d like to know what the Dimos in Kythera is doing about such a concept, especially as Professor George Leontsinis is a member of the local Kytherian council. An important consideration for the Diaspora when venturing on a pilgrimage to the island of our ancestors, the birth place of Kytherian heritage. Perhaps a meeting can be arranged in July to outline initiatives?

Professor Timothy E Gregory and Dr. Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory gave a lecture on ‘The Bureaucratic Nature of Archaeological Site Preservation in Greece: Realities and Future Challenges’. An interesting point was made regarding churches in Kythera – that many are locked up, supposedly to protect them. In reality however – leaving the general public locked out of a number of churches has meant a lack of maintenance – which has lead to some churches collapsing. So keeping people out (to supposedly secure historic material inside), has lead to the opposite of protection, in contrast, total destruction of a number of Byzantine churches in Kythera.

Dr. Eleni Leontsini discussed Arisotelian morals and political philosophy. Dr Maria Zarimis presented a paper on ‘Darwinism and its impact in the recent Greek press’. George Vardas delivered a paper titled, ‘Hellenism and the Marbles: The quest for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures’ and Dimitri Kepreotes discussed ‘What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? Greek Orthodoxy and the continuity of Hellenism’.

I didn’t present a paper but did a lot of networking, opening dialogue with Dr. Kenneth Sheedy from Macquarie University and the Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies, which is hoped to lead to PhD research on coins found in Kythera. The event was also a good occasion to meet with Dr. Amelia Brown from the University of Queensland, who is planning to participate in archaeological excavations with us at Paleokastro in Kythera during July.

After building a strong relationship with the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens and Sydney Friends, this could mean two other major Australian institutions to work with regarding Kytherian projects.

Photos from the conference are here:

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