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On the Social Construction of Hellenism Cold War Narratives of Modernity, Development and Democracy for Greece



    1. A.S. Onassis Program for Hellenic Studies at New York University
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    • Despina Lalaki is currently a Lecturer at at the A.S. Onassis Program for Hellenic Studies at New York University. She may be reached at


Hellenism is one of those overarching, ever-changing narratives always subject to historical circumstances, intellectual fashions and political needs. Conversely, it is fraught with meaning and conditioning powers, enabling and constraining imagination and practical life. In this essay I tease out the hold that the idea of Hellas has had on post-war Greece and I explore the ways in which the American anti-communist rhetoric and discussions about political and economic stabilization appropriated and rearticulated Hellenism. Central to this history of transformations are the archaeologists; the archaeologists as intellectuals, as producers of culture who, while stepping in and out of their disciplinary boundaries, rewrote and legitimized the new ideological properties of Hellenism while tapping into the resources of their profession.