Greeks in Asia Minor

Before the NationLaunch of Nicholas Doumanis’ book Before the Nation

What kind of lives did the Ottoman Greeks lead? Why were there so many Greek Orthodox Christians living in Asia Minor before 1912? Why were so many Greeks migrating to Asia Minor in that period? Doumanis explores these and many other questions in his new book Before the Nation: Muslim-Christian Coexistence and its Destruction in Late-Ottoman Anatolia, recently published by Oxford University Press.

For decades after the destruction of Smyrna in 1922, deported Greek Orthodox Christians retained a love for their homeland, as well as for lost communities which they shared with the local Muslims. Their coexistence, however, was never taken seriously by historians.

Before the Nation argues that there is more than a grain of truth to these nostalgic traditions. It points to the fact that inter-communality, a mode of everyday living based on the accommodation of cultural difference, was a normal and stabilizing feature of multi-ethnic societies.  

"If ordinary Anatolians were left to their own devices," Doumanis says, "the neighbours would have carried on as before."
"It was unscrupulous outsiders and political opportunists seeking to play groups off against one another that could destabilize their cultures of coexistence in the times of stress."

Drawing largely from an oral archive containing interviews with over 5000 refugees, Nicholas Doumanis examines the mentalities, cosmologies, and value systems as they relate to cultures of coexistence. He furthermore rejects the commonplace assumption that the empire was destroyed by inter-communal hatreds.

Nicholas Doumanis, an associate professor of history at the University of New South Wales, will discuss the reasons why so many Pontians, Cappadocians and other Asia Minor Greeks remained nostalgic for their homelands after their expulsion in 1912 -1922 as his latest book is officially launched in Sydney on Wednesday 8th May by Dr Nicholas G Papppas AM at the University of Sydney.

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