Public talk

Russia's Religious Influence-Building in Greece: Elizabeth H. Prodromou to present at the Seventh Annual McWhinney Memorial Lecture

February 17, 2023

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies is pleased to announce that the Seventh Annual Edward and Emily McWhinney Memorial Lecture will be hosted at SFU's Segal Building next month.

The public talk entitled "Russia’s Religious Influence-Building in Greece: Geopolitical Disruption and Orthodox Transnational Competition" will feature Elizabeth H. Prodromou, Visiting Scholar in the International Studies Program at Boston College and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.

The event will be moderated by Global Humanities assistant professor James Horncastle, the holder of the Edward and Emily McWhinney Professorship in International Relations.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at 7:00 PM PST


Segal Building

Room 1200
Simon Fraser University
500 Granville Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 1W6

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Contact if you have any questions or would like to register without Eventbrite.

This programming is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

Simon Fraser University respectfully acknowledges the unceded traditional territories including, the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, on which SFU Vancouver is located.

You can read the abstract, speaker bio, and learn more about Edward and Emily McWhinney, below.


Since the end of the Cold War, religion has become a critical tool for Russia’s geostrategy of maximizing normative legitimacy and protecting material interests in Europe and Eurasia. Greece is a unique target for Russia's religious influence-building and strategic disruption in the 21st century, given Greece's strategic importance within NATO and in bilateral relations with the United States, and because Greece enjoys unique linkages to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (Istanbul) as leader the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians. This presentation explores the soft and sharp power tools deployed by the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate for influence-building in Greece’s complex religious ecosystem, identifying the historical narrative and operational spaces of Russian activity in the Greek religious field. The presentation elucidates the importance of the Greek case for understanding religious influence- building as a form of geopolitical disruption and gaining purchase into the scope and significance of Orthodox transnational competition.

Elizabeth H. Prodromou

Speaker bio

Elizabeth H. Prodromou is Visiting Scholar in the International Studies Program at Boston College and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. Her research interests and policy work focus on the intersections of geopolitics, religion, and human rights, with particular focus on the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Prodromou served a diplomatic appointment on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (2004-2012), and she was also a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Religion & Foreign Policy Working Group (2011-2015). The author of two edited volumes and many book chapters, her most recent publication deals with Russian influence-building through religious soft power, in The Kremlin Playbook 3: Keeping the Faith. She has published widely in peer-review journals such as Journal of World Christianity, Journal of Democracy, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Orbis, Survival, European Journal of Political Research. Prodromou is a frequent commentator and contributor in US and international media, and she has offered expert testimony and briefings to policymaking bodies such as the US Helsinki Commission, the European Parliament, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. She has held visiting research appointments at the Center for American Progress, the Hedayah International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, the Hudson Institute, among others. She has taught at Tufts University, Boston University, and Princeton University, and she was a consultant member of the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church (2016). She holds a Ph.D. in political science from MIT. She is married to Dr. Alexandros Kyrou, and they are happy parents to their daughter, Sophia.

Edward and Emily McWhinney

The Edward and Emily McWhinney Memorial Lecture was established in 2017 to honour the memory of two long-time friends and supporters of Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University and is devoted to contemporary issues in international relations.

Both Edward and Emily were committed to academic excellence and public service and this annual lecture serves as a lasting legacy for the couple at SFU. It is organized by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies to support public discussion of the topics that animated the McWhinneys’ professional and intellectual lives.

Professor Emeritus Edward Mcwhinney, QC passed away in 2015 on his ninety-first birthday, following a short illness. He was predeceased by his wife Emily McWhinney, who passed away in 2011.

For more information about the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies and its programs, please visit our Media page.

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