Michalis Sotiropoulos (BSA 1821 Fellow in Modern Greek Studies)
Abstract: To what extent can the digital transformation of an archive enhance, or even change, our understanding of Philhellenism and its relationship to the Greek Revolution of 1821? What new ‘ways of seeing’ historical phenomena such as Philhellenism does such a transformation offer? And more generally, does the digital turn go hand in hand with the transnational/global turn—as some scholars seem to suggest? This lecture will address such questions by reflecting on the research project Unpublished archives of British Philhellenism during the Greek Revolution of 1821 currently undertaken at the BSA. One of the key outcomes of this project has been the creation of a digital archive that includes a selection of items from the unpublished papers of two Philhellenes who led exemplary transnational and revolutionary lives: Captain Frank Abney Hastings (1794-1828) and Scottish volunteer and historian George Finlay (1799-1875). The lecture will show how, in the process of transforming the collections into digital format, somewhat mundane practical issues raised important methodological and epistemic questions about: the way we archive and the choices we make when doing so; the politics of knowledge and of institutional memory; the benefits, the possibilities, but also the challenges in the way we do history that the digital and the transnational turns have generated.