Conference - June 22-23, 2018

Homeland-Diaspora Relations in Flux

Greece and Greeks abroad at times of Crisis

St Antony's College, University of Oxford.

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Presenting paper

The Greek American Church, the Community & Greece: The state of play in the early 21st century

This paper explores the changing dynamics in the three-way relationship between the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Greek American community leadership and the Greek homeland in the early 21st century. Its primary focus is the hegemonic role the Church plays in Greek American public life and the ways this unfolded under Archbishop Demetrios. The Archbishop’s appointment in 1999 brought an end to a period of turbulence the Archdiocese experienced from the end of Archbishop Iakovos’ 37-year tenure in 1996 and throughout the next years in which the Church was led by his successor Archbishop Spyridon. The end of the so-called “Iakovian era” meant a lot of things, in terms of foreign policy affairs it deprived the Greek Americans of a leader who had become an undisputed “ethnarch” who enjoyed the respect of both the White House and the governments in Athens. While the Archdiocese retained its dominant role in community affairs under Dimitrios, during his tenure the influence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople – which arguably Iakovos had kept at bay – now began to increase and by the same token affect the Archdiocese’s role in issues affecting Greco-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue. This in turn forced a realignment of the major players in the Greek American lobby in an attempt to accommodate or respond to the new realities.

Author bio

Alexander Kitroeff is Associate Professor of History at Haverford College where he teaches courses on the history of Europe and the Mediterranean. He received his D.Phil in Modern History from Oxford University in 1984. He was on the editorial board of the Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora from 1980 until 2013 when it ceased publication. He has served as historical consultant to film director Maria Iliou in four documentary films and a planned 5-part series on the history of Modern Athens. His research focuses on identity in Greece and its diaspora communities over a range of spheres, from politics to sports. His books include The Greeks in Egypt, 1919-1937: Ethnicity & Class London: St. Antony’s College Monographs, Ithaca Press 1989; Griegos en AméricaMadrid: Fundación MAPFRE, 1992; Wrestling with the Ancients: Modern Greek Identity and the Olympics New York: Greekworks, 2004; Ελλάς, Ευρώπη Παναθηναϊκός! 100 Χρονια Ελληνική Ιστορία New York: Greekworks, 2010 - an updated edition will be published in 2018 by Kedros Publishers, Athens. His new book The Greeks and the Making of Modern Egypt published by the American University in Cairo Press will appear in late 2018. He is currently completing a book-length study of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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