Sovereignty, Space and Aesthetics: Greece and Europe in the World

Between June 15th and 18th, 2019, the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies, in collaboration with Rutgers University - Newark, presented the interdisciplinary workshop "Sovereignty, Space and Aesthetics: Greece and Europe in the World" that took place in the village of Molyvos on the island of Lesvos, Greece.


Organizers created a workshop group comprised of scholars from N. American and European academic institutions, as well as affiliates from non-profit organizations to reflect on a wide range of themes and pressing issues framed and underlain by questions of space, sovereignty and/or aesthetics, from their respective fields, which include history, forensic and research architecture, critical and cultural studies, theory, gender studies, anthropology and politics. Specifically, participants were invited to:

  • analyze narratives connected to exile, transition, journeys which shed light on the landscape as a site of negotiation between different elements and identities, connected to past memories and /or present-day global political and cultural developments in Greece, Europe and the World;
  • reflect on broader themes and pressing issues that connect experiences of individuals from the Aegean, the Mediterranean, South and West Asia, and Caribbean and Africa; and
  • contextualize the complex legacy of different crises, their transnational histories and politics, from a global humanities perspective.



Participants presented thirty-minute talks, followed by moderated discussions, which engaged with many of the topics framed by questions of space, sovereignty and/or aesthetics from their own interdisciplinary perspective.

This allowed for critical, comparative and creative thinking, reflections and discussions on pressing global challenges, including: movements in politics and culture across time and space, migration, transnational history, contemporary crises, European (dis)integration, colonial history, modern literature, post/colonialism, memory, trauma, displacement, identities, genders and different modes of being, forms of violence, and conceptual history.



Lesvos was selected as the site for these discussions because of the layers and complexity of its ancient and contemporary history; its rich cultural production from antiquity to modern times with Classical, Byzantine and Ottoman structures and monuments that highlight the co-existence of different traditions and people; its association with celebrated Greek authors and artists, from Sappho to Patrikios; as a portal to a sequence of different empires elevating it as a unique place of convergences, with population re-constituted by population transfers following the Balkan Was and formalized by the Lausanne Conference of 1923; as a significant space where many of the effects and contradictions of current global affairs have converged.



  • Sadia Abbas, Rutgers University - Newark 
  • Eirini Kotsovili, Simon Fraser University


  • Stavros Niarchos Foundation
    Centre for Hellenic Studies
  • Office of the Dean,
    Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Office of the Chancellor and Provost
  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • The Graduate School
  • Department of English
  • Postcolonial Questions and Performances-RU-N