Tormented by History

Nationalism in Greece and Turkey

January 2008 9781850658993 220pp
EU Customers


Tormented by Historyis the first comparative study of nationalism in Greece and Turkey. Grounded in an extensive critical review of the popular and scholarly historiography and literature on Greek and Turkish nationalisms, it traces the emergence and development of the Greek and Turkish nationalist projects over the past two hundred years, challenging the received wisdom about the inevitability of the rise of a ‘Greek’ and a ‘Turkish’ nation. Acknowledging the complexity of the relationship between the two nationalisms, Ozkirimli and Sofos, one a Turk, the other a Greek, examine a complex terrain involving the politics of language, religion, memory and history, territory and landscape; processes of homogenization, marginalization and minoritization of populations and cultures as well as institutional support of Greek and Turkish nationalism. They also discuss the place of ‘constitutive violence’ —  physical and symbolic — in the nationalist imagination and the ensuing trauma and sense of loss in the process of establishment and consolidation of Greek and Turkish identities.


‘This is a most impressive text, drawing together, and in a very fluent and integrated way, the histories and debates on nationalism in Greece and Turkey. […] I have never seen a comparative study of this kind, let alone one that draws on material in both languages to great effect. […]  It is also a remarkable example, too rare in this world, of collaboration by intellectuals from two rival states and also, given the sensibilities involved, a most courageous and valiant intervention.’ —  Professor Fred Halliday, London School of Economics

‘This is not the first book to look at Greek and Turkish nationalisms in tandem, but it has the great advantage over its predecessors of tackling its subject on a thematic rather than country by country basis, avoiding the usual disjointed account. It is critical and objective, in a field in which, until recently, most single-country accounts have uncritically accepted nationalist orthodoxies.’ — Middle East Journal


Spyros Sofos is Senior Research Fellow in European and International Studies at the European Research Centre, Kingston University, London. His publications include Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe and Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Networks, both of which he co-authored.

Umut Ozkirimli is Associate Professor of Politics and the Director of the Center for Turkish-Greek Studies at Istanbul Bilgi University. His previous publications include Theories of Nationalism: A Critical Introduction (2000)

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