The webinar will be in Greek

By registering you will be able to submit your questions through Q&A on Zoom.


In 1829 the participants of the Fourth National Assembly voted to construct the Church of the Savior in gratitude for liberation from the Ottoman Empire. Their plans for a colossal church reflected their hopes for national grandiosity more than reality, however, and rather expectedly no church was built. Yet the phantasm of this structure continued to hover over Greece, and in the late 1960s the project was revisited by the Junta in the context of the 150-year anniversary of the revolution. Through an imaginative reading of the historical record, the Colonels rebranded the church as an unrealized “Nation’s Vow” whose fulfilment would signify that Greece, at least domestically, had been made great again. Today the project is remembered by some as a sacrilegiously unrealized pledge and by others as a scandalous kitsch endeavor, and in neither case is there much recognition of how it is embedded in a long and complex history of visions of national grandeur. Drawing on archival and ethnographic research, I locate the church within this history, which allows me to ask: What happens to irredentist ideas when they encounter harsh realities, and what would a history of the Greek 20th century that traces the reconfigurations and transformations of these visions for the nation look like?

About the speaker:

Dimitris Antoniou is Lecturer in Hellenic Studies and Associate Director of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Public Humanities Initiative (SNFPHI) at Columbia University. His research and teaching focuses on the history, anthropology, and contemporary art of Greece. His monograph, The Mosque That Wasn’t There: Islam and Political Cost in Contemporary Greece (forthcoming, University of Pennsylvania Press), explores the state’s attempts to construct a mosque, while recent articles examine spatial absence, encounters with the unthinkable in investigations of Greece’s dictatorial past, and the contemporary artistic landscape.