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The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and its impact on the Muslim population of Crete

The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and its impact on the Muslim population of Crete

Ali Onay (born Rethymnon 1918), famous for his collection of Cretan heirlooms on Cunda

Upper House Seminar

Bruce Clark and Sophia Koufopoulou, “The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and its impact on the Muslim population of Crete”

Speakers: Bruce Clark, author of Twice a Stranger: How mass expulsion forged modern Greece and Turkey, and Athens: City of Wisdom; and Sophia Koufopoulou, a Greek social anthropologist who has been conducting research in Turkey since 1990 and is the author of a study of the Muslim Cretans

Co-ordinator: David Holton

The Treaty of Lausanne imposed a compulsory exchange of populations, with few exceptions, between the Christian and Muslim peoples of Greece and Turkey. One group whose fortunes have not been extensively studied is the Greek-speaking Muslims of Crete, most of whom eventually settled in Turkey. We shall examine the lives and experiences of this minority group in Crete before 1923 and subsequently on Cunda island, formerly Moschonisi.


Bruce Clark: “The Cretan Muslims before the Exchange of Populations”

More than any other population group, the Muslims who left Crete epitomise the trauma and paradoxes of the 1923 population exchange. They were intensely attached to the island, monoglot in Greek, and shared a material culture with their Christian neighbours. While thousands of Muslims had already left the island in the preceding decades, Islam remained a powerful presence in the economic and municipal life of Crete’s main towns. The novelist Pandelis Prevelakis penned a graphic account of the Muslim exodus from his native Rethymnon, arguing that it came at the very time when, after decades of inter-communal tension, Christian and Muslim Cretans were ready to live together. Others regard his view as much too romantic, ignoring the sectarian disputes that were never far from the surface. I shall weigh up these views and reflect on the Cretan Muslim community in the last years of its life on the island.

Sophia Koufopoulou: “’Oturmak myrodiasi’: The Muslim-Cretan experience in Turkey”

My presentation reviews pivotal moments of the settling and living experiences of the exchanged Muslim-Cretan population in Turkey. I focus on the experiences of Muslim-Cretans in the area of Ayvalık as they have been shaped by their “journey” (1923-1927), their forcible relocation to Ayvalık and Cunda, their cohabitation with other exchanged populations (Midilli exchanged people), the advantages and disadvantages of the proximity of their new homeland to the Greek State, their contributions to the newly formed Turkish state, and finally their efforts to create a unique “scent” which over the last 30 years has enabled them to celebrate their ethnic background by simultaneously creating a flourishing local cultural economy. I examine the consequences of this forcible relocation (Hirschon, 2004) on various levels of social life (cultural, socio-economic, religious, political, and gender among others).

Hybrid lecture, 4pm (UK) / 6pm (Greece)

Please register to attend IN PERSON in Athens here:

Please register to attend ONLINE via Zoom here:

Upper House Seminar
When: 9 October, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EEST
Where: British School at Athens, Upper House – Athens – 52 Souedias Street