The Study of the Human Past

“Contested futures: Greek-Ottoman refugee children and demographic engineering at the end of the Ottoman Empire (1914-1922)”

Andrianopoulou Konstantina

Research ProposalShort bio

Summary of the Research Proposal

The proposed research concerns the refugee children of the First World War and the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-1922 in the Ottoman Empire. Ιt focuses on those orphan  or parentless refugee children who are claimed by the Greek-Orthodox community as its members. The aim of my research is firstly to explore the various relief networks and mechanisms adopted to face the refugee children issue by all the involved parts: the Greek Orthodox community, the Greek and the Ottoman state and the international community (League of Nations). Secondly, my study will focus on the dispute between the rival nation centers, i.e. the turkish state and the Greek-Othodox community, as well as the Greek state, on the ethnoreligious identity and belonging of the refugee children. In addition, I will explore and analyze the discourse articulated and the practices adopted by the agents of antagonistic centers concerning refugee children and their national future.

From mid 19th century the issue of foudlings, destitute and orphan children in the Ottoman Empire is being attributed an immense importance both centrally (by the ottoman state) and on a communal basis. Two basic reasons lead to the creation of a, progressively in time, more and more sophisticated surveillance system of this population group: the govermentality of the reformed bureacracy of modernizing ottoman state and the need to keep together and develop the national bounds and feelings of the people of various ethnoreligious groups in the age of nationalisms. During the period of First World War and the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-1922, the question of demographic data for rival and hostile nationalisms is crucial and clearly reflects on the issue of refugee children. Literally, one can anticipate a battle going on concerning  the belonging of these children, who are eloquenlty characterised “little nation martyrs” (εθνομάρτυρες) by the Greek orthodox press of the time. Demographic engineering of antagonistic nationalisms in the a period of total war, i.e. the First World War, will serve as the main theoretical framework of my research.

 Moreover, I will address the relation of war to childhood, including thus the topic of ottoman refugee children of the First World War in the international historiographic paradigm. Lastly but very importantly, by reading through the lines of the archival material, I will shed light to the lives and personal strategies of the refugee children themselves. By doing so, I will stand critical at the dominant discourse of the period, that presented these children as mere victims of the circumstances. By decomposing their mediated voices, I will approach them as acting individuals with personal agentas, that might differ from the imposed rule.

The topic of war refugee children and the rivalry between the Ottoman state and the Greek Orthodox community is an unexplored research field, which will shed light from a new perspective to the history of national rivalry during the First World War as well as to the historiography of the Greek Orthodox community of the Empire. Finally, it directly relates to the birth of notions, legal status and practices such as humanitarian aid, refugee, unaccompanied-orphan/parentless children that are unfortunately important current problems.

Konstantina Andrianopoulou studied Ηistory and Αrchaeology at the School of Philosophy of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (1994-1999) and holds an MA in history, History Department, University of Bosphorus (Boğaziçi Universitesi), Istanbul (2004). She holds a PhD in history (2014), Panteion University, Department of History and Political Sciences, Athens (Dissertation theme: The Greek Orthodox Community of Istanbul during the interwar period: Communal organization, ideology and the limits of the minority in the Turkish national setting). In July 2020 she enrolled for a post-doc (Panteion University, Department of History and Political Sciences, under the supervision of assistant professor Andreas Lyberatos) on the orphan refugee Greek-orthodox children in the Ottoman Empire (with focus on Istanbul) during the First World War until 1922. Currently, she holds a post-doc researcher position in InterMusiG research program at the Laboratory of Ethnomusicology and Cultural Anthropology, National and Kapodistrian Univeristy of Athens. She has participated in the following research programs: “Migration of Greek-Orthodox from the Ottoman Empire to the United States of America, late 19th century-First World War” [scientific supervision: S. Anagnostopoulou. Pithagoras II-Support to research groups of Panteion University] and “Gender and Inter-religious relations in South Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean (19th-20th centuries)» [École Française d’Athènes- Faculty of Turkish Studies and Modern Asian Studies, University of Athens. Coordinators: Tassos Anastassiadis and Efi Kanner].

Since 2009 she teaches history and literature at Moraitis senior high and high school of Athens and coordinates history teaching at senior high school. She has attended and participated in various educational programs on the teaching of history in the secondary education.