Research Project on
«Nation building and ethnographic research during the interwar»

This project is financed by the University of Macedonia Research Committee under its 4th framework (2009-2010) program of basic research funding. The 4,000 Euro funding was provided following an assessment process involving external reviewers. The project’s duration is 18 months. Assist. Professor Georgios Agelopoulos is the project’s academic coordinator.

Aims and methodology

The breakdown of the Ottoman Empire in the mid 1910s had important results in the development of social sciences in the region. Just after the Balkan Wars (1912-14) academics and policy makers turned their attention to the problem of incorporating socially, culturally, politically and economically the former Ottoman territories into their nation state structures. Part of this process involved the hybrid attempt to develop ethnological studies and the academic discipline of ethnology. Until this period, the knowledge available on the populations of the region was provided by

    (a) non-academic accounts produced by military personnel, spies, merchants, local expatriates and diplomats.

    (b) scholars with an academic background who traveled in these areas of the Orient and

    (c) academic researchers, mainly arm-chair geographers and demographers.

This project aims in examining aspects of the development of interwar ethnography in the southern Balkans and their relationship with nation-building. Special attention is given to the work of Kostantinos Karavidas and Joseph Obrebski. In analyzing their contribution we take into consideration the wider epistemological, academic and socio-political context of the interwar in the Southern Balkans. For this reason, part of our work focuses on the funding of the School of Oriental Ethnology at the Greek University of Smyrna in 1919. Our research data are the outcome of:
  • Archival research at the Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens
  • Archival research at the Newspapers and Periodicals Library of the Greek Parliament
  • Archival research at the Archives of the University of Athens
  • A field trip in the area where J. Obrebski conducted fieldwork in the late 1920s
  • A field trip in the area where K. Karavidas conducted fieldwork in the 1920s

The research team

  • Αssist. Professor Georgios Agelopoulos (implementation of the research project, project coordinator, collection of primary data, writing-up of the results)
  • Dr. Antonis Patrinos (development and maintenance of the internet site)

Deliverables and results

Further Reading

Additional information on K. Karavidas and J. Obrebski is available in the files included in Galleries 1 and 3. The publications available in the folder Publications present a detailed analysis of their work.

Those wishing to study further on the above mentioned issues should consult the following references. This reading list mainly includes titles in English, French and Greek. A detailed list of references is provided in each of the papers included in the folder Publications.

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Bakalaki, A. 2006. ‘A Different Kind of Knowledge? Learning Anthropology in the Greek University System’. Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Vol. 24, pp. 257-283. 

Bošković A. (ed.) 2010. Other people’s anthropologies. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Γούναρης, Β.Κ., 2007. Τα Bαλκάνια των ελλήνων: από το διαφωτισμό έως τον Α ́ παγκόσμιο πόλεμο. Thessaloniki.

Demirer, S.O. 2010. ‘Anthropology as a nation-building rhetoric: the shaping of Turkish anthropology (from 1850s to 1940s)’. Dialectical Anthropology, Vol. 34(1), pp. 1-19.  

Dorle Dracklé, Iain R. Edgar and Thomas K. Schippers, Educational Histories of European Social Anthropology, (N.Y. 2003).

Elchinova, M. 2007. ‘Sociocultural Anthropology in Bulgaria: Desired and Contested’ in A. Bošković A. (ed.) Other people’s anthropologies. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 70-82.

Engelking A. 2003. ‘Objective observation and direct experience. Jozef Obrebski’s research in Macedonia, contextualizing his scientific biography’. Ethnologia Polona Vol. 24, pp. 7-28.

Engelking A. 2004. 'Obrebski on Malinowski. The Reception of Functionalism in Poland'. Studia Socjologiczne,  Vol. 2(173), pp. 17-34.

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Engelking A. and J. Serwański. 2006(b). 'Anthropological Writings by Jozef Obrebski'. Sprawy Narodowościowe Vol. 29, pp. 283-285.

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Gefou-Madianou, D. 2000. ‘Disciples, discipline and reflection: anthropological encounters and trajectories’ in M. Strathern (ed.) Audit Cultures. London: Routledge, pp. 256-278.

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Halpern J.M. 2003. ‘Reflections on Jozef Obrebski’ work in Macedonia from the perspective of American Anthropology’. Ethnologia Polona Vol. 24, pp. 29-41.

Hann C., M. Sárkány and P. Skalnik. 2005. ‘Introduction: Continuities and Contrasts in an Essentially Contested field’ in Hann C., M. Sárkány and P. Skalnik (eds) Studying Peoples in the People’s Democracies. Berlin: LIT, pp. 1-20.

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Καραβάς, Σ. 2003. ‘Οι εθνογραφικές περιπέτειες του “ελληνισμού” (1876 – 1878) Β’, Τα Ιστορικά, Vol. 38.

Καραβίδας, Κωσταντίνος, Παρατηρήσεις περί της φύσεως και της μελλοντικής χρησιμότητος των ιστορικών κοινοτικών οργανισμών ως και περί της προϊούσης πολιτικής χειραγωγήσεως των επί της Ιωνίας ομογενών κοινοτήτων unpublished manuscript (Αthens 1922).

Καραβίδας, Κωσταντίνος, ‘Η πατριωτική επανάστασις και τα κόμματα’, Κοινότης  (Athens 20 November 1922) Α/8, pp. 3-7.

Kαραβίδας, Κ. 1926. ‘Η Μακεδονοσλαβική αγροτική κοινότης και η πατριαρχική οικογένεια εις την περιφέρειαν Μοναστηρίου’, Αρχείον Οικονομικών και Κοινωνικών Επιστημών 6, pp. 227-314.

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Marketos S., 2007. The Founding of the University of Thessaloniki: A Political Choice [in Greek] paper presented at the conference University and Reforms in Greece, University of Athens, Athens 7-8 June 2007.

Μαυρογορδάτος, Γ., 1990. ‘Ο Καραβίδας, θεωρητικός και ιδεολόγος του μικροαστισμού’ in M. Komninou and E. Papataxiarchis (eds), Κοινότητα, Κοινωνία και Ιδεολογία. Athens.

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Papataxiarchis, E. 2003. ‘Social Anthropology in post-WWI Greece. The first steps’ [in Greek] in Lampiri-Dimaki I. (ed.) Social Sciences and Vanguard in Greece 1950-1967. Athens: Ε.Κ.Κ.Ε. and Gutenberg, pp. 115-154.

Papataxiarchis, E., 2011. ‘From ‘national’ to ‘social science’. Politics, ideology and disciplinary formation in Greek anthropology before, during and after the dictatorship’. Paper presented at the conference The Rise of Anthropology ‘on the Margins of Europe’ 1945-1991. Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale, 9 – 10 March 2011.

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