Genealogies of rapprochement at the Aegean borders

Location:  Turkey & Greece

Year(s):  2012-2013

Type: Post-doctoral Fellowship

Post-doctoral Fellow: Leonidas Karakatsanis


Funding: BIAA

Under BIAA SRI(s):  Religion and Politics in Historical Perspective & Migration, Minorities and Regional Identities



This proect presents a new critical re-description of the rapprochement process between Greek and Turkish societies during a lengthy time span (1974-2010), offering innovative explanations about the emergence of reconciliation initiatives. Presenting new historical material, from archives traced in personal collections and in the local libraries of Aegean coastal towns and islands, it specifically sheds light on peace initiatives emerging between 1974 and 1996, a period that has been largely ignored by the relevant literature on Greek-Turkish rapprochement. It therefore fills in significant missing pieces of a puzzle regarding the sudden activation and emergence of a common civil society in favour of peace in the aftermath of the Imia/Kardak crisis in 1996. It also sheds light on the ‘explosion’ of the friendship discourse in the post-1999 era in light of shifting Greek-Turkish relations. 

Oscillating initially between different registers of discursive production, from the affective rhetorics of E. Venizelos and K. Atatürk, to the dry language of cold-war diplomacy, ‘Turkish-Greek friendship’ became since the 1970s, a central point of reference of almost every pro-rapprochement initiative of Greeks and Turks: It was translated into claims for peace and disarmament, performed during festivals and town twinning projects, turned into a title for several established associations. Behind these calls for friendship, there could be internationalist agendas of radical leftist groups or the institutional left, a liberal post-political pacifism of urban elites or neoliberal projects in the search of common profit. ‘Friendship’ was turned into a contested and debated signifier, appraised by some as the absolute telos of the Greek-Turkish conflict, vehemently criticized by others as an act of treason, or ridiculed by some as an ‘empty’ discourse.

Drawing from Discourse Theory, this research project's theoretical presuppositions support the case that discursive articulations can provide a rich source of information for exploring socio-political change. In this respect, the project will display that the word ‘friendship’, taken as a genealogical prism and as a denominator of the Greek-Turkish encounters, carries a certain historical, political but also methodological and even philosophical significance that, if addressed properly—that is in a theoretically informed manner—enables the deep exploration of a web of complex socio-political practices ‘hidden’ behind it. 

The project aimed to the transformation of my relevant PhD thesis to a book manuscript by conducting additional research and revising several chapters.

Resulting Publications: 


L. Karakatsanis (2014) Turkish-Greek relations: Rapprochement, civil society and the politics of friendship. London & New York: Routledge.

Edited Volume

L. Karakatsanis and N. Papadogiannis. eds. (forthcoming): The politics of Culture in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Performing the Left since the 1960s. London & New York: Routledge.

Journal Articles and Chapters in Edited Volumes

L. Karakatsanis and N. Papadogiannis (forthcoming) 'Performing the Left in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus' in The politics of Culture in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Performing the Left since the 1960s. London & New York: Routledge.

L. Karakatsanis (forthcoming) 'Repositioned / re-signified: Echoes of violence, aporias of solidarity between Cyprus, Turkey and Greece' in L. Karakatsanis and N. Papadogiannis. eds: The politics of Culture in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Performing the Left since the 1960s. London & New York: Routledge.

L. Karakatsanis, (2016) ‘Radicalised citizens vs radicalised governments. Greece and turkey in a comparative perspective from the 2008 Athens riots to the 2013 Gezi park protests.’ Journal of Contemporary European Studies 24:2, 255-279.

Related Events

Public Lecture; Turkish-Greek Friendship and the Politics of Rapprochement: A genealogical approach, BIAA-NIHA FIT  in Ankara, March 14th 2013  Listen to Lecture >>

Belongs to;
Contemporary Turkish Society & Politics
History, Politics and Social Sciences

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