Presenter: Prof Alexander Kitroeff
Language of Presentation: English | R.M.L.G.*: 0 – No knowledge of Greek required.
The Greek Revolution of 1821 impacted the United States in many ways which this paper explores before offering an overall interpretation of the phenomenon of American Philhellenism in the early C19th. On the eve of the revolution there was evidence of the admiration Americans held for Classical Greece with the emergence of “Greek Revival Architecture.” When news came of the modern Greeks fighting or their freedom against the Ottomans there was a wave of sympathy throughout America. The Congress debated the possibility of offering direct help to the insurgents but the proposal was narrowly defeated in the name of non-intervention in European affairs, a policy known as the Monroe Doctrine.
But private citizens rallied to Greece’s cause: a few brave volunteers went to fight on the side of the Greeks, many others formed philhellenic committees in Boston, New York and Philadelphia to raise fund to support the insurgents. They were motivated by feelings of solidarity for fellow Christians, humanitarian concern about the suffering civilians and above all by the resonance that the goal of freedom had Among Americans who saw parallels between their war against the British and the Greek war against the Ottomans. The significance of the message of freedom for Americans was confirmed subsequently when the anti-slavery Abolitionist cause drew inspiration from the Greek uprising.
Alexander Kitroeff was born in Athens and educated in the United Kingdom where he received his doctorate degree in modern history from the University of Oxford.
He is currently Professor of History at Haverford College in Pennsylvania.
His research focuses on identity in Greece and its diaspora on in a broad range from politics and sports, on which he has published extensively. His most recent books are The Greeks and the Making of Modern Egypt (2019) and Greek Orthodoxy in America: a modern history (2020.) He has also collaborated with film director Maria Iliou as historical consultant in several documentary films including “The Journey: the Greek Dream in America”; “Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City” and “Athens Between East & West, 1821-1896” which is the first of a 5-part series on the city’s modern history.
Kitroeff is currently working on two book projects, a history of AHEPA, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association to mark the organization’s centenary in 2022, and a history of Greek-owned diner restaurants in America.
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