Think Greek: Multicultural lessons from the Greek Revolution of 1821
Faye Spiteri (CEO Fronditha Care) + Vicky Paparchristos (Director Scale Investors) join Just Gold CEO Kyriakos Gold to talk about the Greek Revolution of 1821, women and multiculturalism in Australia.
What is the lived experience of Greek Australian women? Find out by watching the robust discussion between the speakers and our live studio audience.
The story of the Greek War of Independence is a story of battle, heroism, vision, conspiracy, diplomacy, resilience - it is also a story of men. Warriors, fighters, leaders, thinkers, diplomats. Yet, one of the first stories of Greek resistance to Ottoman rule features women in its centre.
Almost 20 years before the Revolution was declared, in the Epirot region of Souli, a group of 22 (39 by other accounts) women joined the pantheon of heroes and martyrs when they decided to take their own lives (along with that of their children) and fall off a cliff, rather than be captured and killed by the Ottoman (Turk-Albanian) soldiers. They immediately became legends, eternal beacons of inspiration, symbols of the fight for freedom and self-determination.There should be hundreds of others like them; mothers, wives, sisters of freedom fighters - but also fighters themselves, martyrs, commanders, visionaries. Their stories are lost or buried in the first-hand accounts that were the foundation of the revolution narrative.
That is not surprising - this was, after all, the male-dominated 19th-century world, a world in which women were still considered a commodity. In parts of the Ottoman empire, they were traded as livestock; the plight of a woman depended on where she was born -- and who she was born to.
Some were born slaves and ended up being servants or concubines; others were born poor, destined to live a hard agricultural life, working the land, while raising families at the same time; paradoxically, those born in wealthy families enjoyed even less freedom, constricted by the moral boundaries and the social rules of their class. But at least they had the chance to get an education. And some of them managed to break free of their social bonds and become leaders, icons, symbols of heroism and female emancipation.
• Laskarina Bouboulina, whose father took part in the failed Revolution of 1770, inherited a substantial fortune from her father and her two ship-owner husbands, which she largely spent to fund the cause, arming two ships founding a corps that operated inland. She was actively involved in the struggle, being the only woman to be accepted as a member of the Philiki Etaireia, the secret society that instigated the uprising and took part in warfare herself - most notably in Tripoli’s battles Nafplio. After the second civil war, she fell into disfavour and was, ultimately, killed because of a family vendetta. By then, she was already penniless, having spent all her fortune on the war. She was posthumously awarded the rank of admiral, being the only woman ever to hold this title.
• Mando Mavrogenous was an educated woman of aristocratic descent who, inspired by the Enlightenment, corresponded with prominent European women, raising awareness for the Greek Cause. She armed ships and a military corps and was instrumental in the siege of Tripoli and the battle of Dervenakia. Having spent all of her fortune for the Cause, she lived the last years of her life with scarce resources.
• Domna Visvizi replaced her husband as a naval captain and patrolled the coast of
Evia to protect it from Turkish attacks, and took part in the blockage of the besieged Chalkida. Once she ran out of funds, she offered her ship to the Greek government to turn it into a fire ship, which was used to blow up a Turkish frigate, a treasury carrying the money of the Turkish fleet, in Cesme. She died in poverty, following the fate of other fighters of the Revolution.
Creating a national narrative through an international lens.
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Esther Anatolitis and Helen Marcou AM join Kyriakos Gold to discuss the role of Art in Greek culture, historically and today.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to the land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.