Institute for Mediterranean Studies

History of the cities of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans (18th-20th c.)

History of the cities of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans (18th-20th c.)

The main objective of the project is the contribution to a better understanding of the urban phenomenon in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean in the modern and contemporary period, through a comparative approach that permits us to go beyond the limitations of the national framework within which usually take place the historical studies.

Researchers: Andras Lyberatos (IMS), Christos Hadjiiossif (IMS / Faculty Associate), Christos Loukos (Faculty Associate), Socrates Petmezas (Faculty Associate)

Research team (postgraduate and undergraduate students): Eleni Zerva, Antonis Matsos, Nikos Melistas, Mihalis Raftakis, Anna Hala, Artemis Georgiadi, Aggeliki Tounta, Kelly Mitsiou, Thanos Aggelopoulos, Alkis Kapokakis

Collaborators: University of Lyon II [Olivier Zeller, Professor of Urban History], Institute for Balkan Studies of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, International research team Relations interconfessionnelles in Sud-Est Europe et la Méditerranée orientale depuis 1852 [Coordinated by École française d'Athènes, http://interconf.efa.gr/index.php/pub_homes/splash/], General State Archives of the Cyclades (Ermoupolis)


The objective of the project was to study the way the societies of the Eastern Mediterranean entered the modern age, from the point of view of the urban growth and the changing relations of the urban centers with their hinterland. The 19th century constitutes a rupture in the history of the cities in Eastern Mediterranean, a space which was detached through various processes from its common Ottoman past. The cities of this area appear in this period as new social constellations as regards their social composition and their institutional formation but also often from a demographic and residential point of view.

This is true for all the cities of the Greek kingdom and the Balkan states that succeeded the Ottoman Empire. Even when we are not talking about new residential complexes, such as Ermoupolis, Piraeus of Sparti, the local government structures and the economic and cultural life of the cities unfold in a new institutional framework and with the guidance of new social agents. Their physical appearance undergoes radical changes. The new framework of the urban development is the national state, within which the cities function as factors of organization and integration of the economic and political space and at the same time as the starting points of processes of cultural change and homogenisation. It was this framework that determined the dimensions, the particular historical path and the centre of gravity of the residential complex in every state.

In the Ottoman Empire the aforementioned rupture does not influence all the cities, at least not with the same intensity. However, the biggest cities underwent radical changes in their administration, in the organisation of their economic activities and in their cultural life with the introduction of institutions and patterns of sociality from the Western Europe. In some cases, such as Alexandria and Beirut, the Ottoman 19th c. cities constitute new formation in both demographic and residential aspects. But the conversion of the provinces of the Ottoman Empire in Asia and Africa to national states was a slow process, in comparison to the emergence of its successor states in the old Ottoman provinces in Europe. Consequently, the major cities in these areas develop with the international market as their main economic point of reference and acquire a multi-faceted view in their political and cultural life. 

The common past of the different urban centers of the broader area of the Eastern Mediterranean; the close relations between them that survive in the 19th and a large part of the 20th century beyond the political borders; their common orientation towards the centers of the international economy from which they draw their cultural model; all these are favourable factors for the parallel and comparative study of the urban phenomenon in this period and area, in its different temporalities and on its diverse levels.

In sum, objective of the project was the contribution to a better understanding of the urban phenomenon in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean in the modern and contemporary period, through a comparative approach that permits us to go beyond the limitations of the national framework within which usually take place the historical studies.

The research program was structured round three major themes:

Ι.  Urban development and residential complex 1830 - 1960. The relationship between town and country.

ΙΙ. Population development, social division of labour, social stratification and social relations in the cities of the nation-states 1830 - 1950.

ΙΙΙ. The issue of the "supranational" or "cosmopolitan" cities in the Eastern Mediterranean.


Project results

Databse: total population of the settlements of the Greek state 1861-1971 (it's at the stage of the final processing)


Publications

  • Α. Lyberatos, “School, Community, State, Financing Christian Orthodox Eduacation in Late Ottoman and Autonomous Bulgaria (19th-early 20th c.)”, in: M. Michael, T. Anastassiadis & Ch. Verveil (eds.), Religious Communities and Modern Statehood. The Ottoman and Post-Ottoman World at the age of Nationalism and Colonialism, Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 2015, p. 261-279

  • Chr. Hadziiossif, “Ottoman Reforms and Colonial Policies”, in M.Michael et al, Religious Communities…, op.cit., 90-104.

  • A. Lyberatos (ed.), Social Transformation and Mass Mobilization in the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean Cities (1900-1923), Crete University Press: IMS Series in Social and Economic History, 2013

  • A. Lyberatos, “Confronting the Urban Crowd: Bulgarian Society and the 1906 anti-Greek Movement” in Idem. (ed.), Social Transformation & Mass Mobilization in the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean Cities (1900-1923), Crete UP, 2013, 177-194.

  • Chr. Hadziiossif, “The State as Insurer of Last Resort” in A. Lyberatos (ed.), Social Transformation & Mass Mobilization in the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean Cities (1900-1923), Crete UP, 2013,101-114.

  • A. Lyberatos, “Between War and Trade: Remarks on the Political Constitution and Social Composition of the Orthodox Community of Varna (19th c.)”, Etudes      Balkaniques, 2007/2, 81-98.

  • Α. Λυμπεράτος & Varban Todorov, Κατάλογος των ελληνικών αρχείων και των συλλογών ελληνικών βιβλίων της Βάρνας/Опис на архивните колекции и книги на гръцки език в град Варна, bilingual edition, Γενική Διεύθυνση Αρχείων-Βουλγαρία, Ινστιτούτο Μεσογειακών Σπουδών-Ρεθυμνο, Ινστιτούτο Βαλκανικών Σπουδών-Σόφια, Sofia 2006   (financed by the Institute for Mediterranean Studies)

Project Team

Socrates Petmezas

Professor of Economic and Social Modern History
Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete
Curriculum vitae

Andreas Lyberatos

Assistant Professor of Social and Economic History of the Modern Balkans
Department of Political Science and History, Panteion University (Athens)
Curriculum vitae

Christos Loukos

Emeritus professor of modern and contemporary history
Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete
Curriculum vitae

Christos Hadziiossif

Emeritus professor of modern and contemporary history - FORTH Distinguished member

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