Greek Modernity and Europe: An ambivalent relationship
Title: Greek Modernity and Europe: An ambivalent relationship
Citation: Atsuko ITCHIJO (ed.), Europe, Nations and Modernity: Identities and Modernities in Europe, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 110-132
Modern Greek identity has not been solely the result of an internal ‘creation’ process. It has been defined and elaborated in the wider European context drawing links between Greek modernity and classic antiquity. The narratives of modern Greek identity have been largely articulated in and then imported from western Europe as components of a broader representation of the sources of European civilization. The word ‘modern’ was automatically connected with the creation of the Greek state that gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century, consolidating the creation of the new entity while affirming a link of continuity with the Hellenic ancestral past. Yet can Greek society and the ‘modern’ Greek state be considered as modern? The answer is not straightforward. This paper provides a critical overview of Greece’s ambivalent and incomplete state of modernity at the eve of the 21st century. We analyse the formation of modern Greek national identity and its inherent even if contradictory and often ambivalent links to Europe and European civilization. Pre-World War II orientations towards Europe in Greece can be understood mainly through the looking glass of national identity development and transformation. Post-WWII constructions of European identity and links with Europe and the EU offer a richer material on which to build the study. Greater emphasis is put here on developments in the last three decades, notably since 1981 and Greece’s accession to the European Economic Community. In the concluding part, the papers elaborates on the relationship between national identity, European identity and modernity – in relation to Eisenstadt’s theory of multiple modernities.
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