Online conference: “Proselytes of a new nation”

Dr. Stefanos Katsikas, associate director of the Center for Hellenic Studies and Assistant Instructional Professor at the University of Chicago, will give an online lecture titled Proselytes of a New Nation: Muslim Conversions to Orthodox Christianity in Modern Greece, 1821-1862, on Thursday June 16, 2022, at 7 p.m., as part of the Greek History and Culture Seminars, offered by the Greek Community of Melbourne.

The article will answer questions such as: Why did many Muslims convert to Orthodox Christianity in modern Greece? What did conversion mean to converts? What were their economic, social and professional profiles? And how did conversion affect converts’ relationships with their Muslim relatives in Greece and the Ottoman Empire?

Because the Ottoman legal system could prevent Muslims who had converted to other religions from inheriting family property, the presentation examines the ways in which conversion complicated family relationships and often led to legal disputes. The presentation argues that religious conversion in the era of nationalism was much more consequential for the convert, their family, and their social relationships. The converts received not only the attention of the community, but also that of the country. Depending on an individual’s religious affiliation and nationality, they viewed neophytes as “traitors” or “heroes”.

In this socio-political context, conversion affected the social fabric of communities more radically than in pre-modern times and more often led to violence and conflict.

Stefanos Katsikas is Associate Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies and Adjunct Teaching Professor at the University of Chicago. He holds a doctorate. in Social Sciences from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) at University College London (UCL). His research focuses on the modern and contemporary history of South-Eastern Europe, in particular on diplomatic history, the study of democratization, regional security, inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations and minority states. 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).

When: Thursday June 16, 2022, 7 p.m.

Where: facebook and youtube

Angela C. Hale