Dr. Stefanos Katsikas, Associate Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies and Assistant Instructional Professor at the University of Chicago, will give an online-only lecture entitled Proselytes of a New Nation: Muslim Conversions to Orthodox Christianity in Modern Greece, 1821-1862, on Thursday, 11 August 2022, at 7 pm, as a part of the Greek History and Culture Seminars, offered by the Greek Community of Melbourne.
The paper will answer questions such as: Why did many Muslims convert to Orthodox Christianity in Modern Greece? What did conversion mean to the converts? What were their economic, social, and professional profiles? And how did conversion affect the converts’ relationships with Muslim relatives in Greece and the Ottoman Empire? Because the Ottoman legal system could keep Muslims who had converted to other religions from inheriting family property, the presentation examines how conversion complicated family relations and often led to legal disputes. The presentation argues that religious conversion in the era of nationalism was far more consequential for the convert, their family, and social relations. Converts received not only community attention but also national. Depending upon an individual’s religious affiliation and nationality, they regarded neophytes as either “traitors” or “heroes.” Against this sociopolitical backdrop, conversion more drastically affected the social fabric of communities than in the pre-modern era and more often led to violence and conflict.
Stefanos Katsikas is Associate Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies and Assistant Instructional Professor at the University of Chicago. He holds a Ph.D. in Social Sciences from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) at the University College London (UCL). His research lies in the modern and contemporary history of Southeastern Europe, especially in diplomatic history, the study of democratization, regional security, inter-ethnic, inter-religious, and minority-state relations. He is the author of Proselytes of a New Nation: Muslim Conversions to Orthodox Christianity in Modern Greece (2022), Islam and Nationalism in Modern Greece, 1821-1940 (2021), and Negotiating Diplomacy in the New Europe: Foreign Policy in Post-Communist Bulgaria (2011), which received a Scouloudi publication award from the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. Katsikas is also the editor of Bulgaria and Europe: Shifting Identities (2010); and co-editor of State-Nationalism in the Ottoman Empire, Greece, and Turkey: Orthodox and Muslims (1830-1945) (2012).
It must be noted that this is a rescheduled seminar from June as the speaker had fallen ill.
When: Thursday 11 August, 7 pm
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