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Associations

EMBCA Presents Hellenic & Philhellenic Women in the Hellenic Revolution

December 14, 2020

NEW YORK – The East Mediterranean Business Cultural Alliance (EMBCA) on December 13 presented Hellenic/Philhellenic Women and Their Effect on the Hellenic Revolution panel discussion webinar in association with AHEPA's Hellenic Cultural Commission. 

The fascinating panel discussion was held in commemoration of the grim anniversary on December 16, 1803 of the Dance of Zalongo, the mass suicide of the women of Souli and their children during the Souliote War against Ali Pasha.

Lou Katsos EMBCA's President/ Founder and Chairman of AHEPA's Hellenic Cultural Commission gave the welcoming remarks and introduced the renowned crossover classical soprano Anastasia Zannis who joined the event from Athens. Zannis sang Oi Souliotises and The Battle Hymn of the Republic to open the event and then the National Anthems of Greece and the United States to conclude this special occasion.

The panel discussion was moderated by EMBCA’s Executive Vice President Marina A. Belessis Casoria. The distinguished panel included Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, Professor Emeritus Eleni Angelomatis-Tsougarakis of the Department of History at Ionian University, History Professor at Northern Virginia Community College Maureen Connors Santelli, and Maria Kaliambou, Senior Lector in the Hellenic Studies Program at Yale University.

The focus of the panel discussion was on the brave and heroic Hellenic women of the Revolution including the most well-known Laskarina Bouboulina and Manto Mavrogenou, as well as the Mesolongitises, the Maniatises and precursors such as Moscho Tzavella and the Souliotises. Historic Hellenic folktales and songs concerning warrior women were also discussed as well as the role of philhellenic women of the various Greek Committees in the United States who supported the Revolution and how organizing the relief effort for women, children and orphans in Greece and events to raise funds for the Revolution on a grassroots level later influenced the Abolitionist and Women’s Suffrage movement in the U.S.

Julia Ward Howe was an advocate for abolitionism along with her husband Samuel Gridley Howe who fought in the Hellenic Revolution. She was also a social activist particularly for women’s suffrage and later wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the 1870 pacifist Mother’s Day Proclamation.

As Katsos noted, the Hellenic Revolution's effects on the American Abolitionist Movement and Women's Suffrage Movement will be further elaborated on in two upcoming EMBCA events, one in February during Black History Month and the other in March during Women's History Month. 

Congresswoman Maloney offered her congratulations to the organizers and noted that the event highlighted the bicentennial of the start of the Greek Revolution, the centennial of women’s suffrage in the U.S., and the longstanding relationship between the U.S. and Greece, the shared ideals and values, and how the two countries have always been allies and will always be allies. Rep. Maloney also mentioned the ongoing efforts with the bipartisan Congressional Hellenic Caucus which she co-chairs with Rep. Gus Bilirakis and includes over 110 members of Congress.

Prof. Angelomatis-Tsougarakis offered her insights into the history of Hellenic women during the Revolution and noted that while it is well-known that women fought and suffered during the fight for freedom, the documents concerning women’s participation are rare or have not been examined. She is currently working on a book on the subject of women in the Revolution.

Prof. Santelli noted the philhellenic fascination with and involvement in the Greek Revolution in the 1820s and 1830s and how the philhellenic movement pushed the borders of U.S. interests into the eastern Mediterranean and infused a global perspective into domestic conversations concerning freedom and reform. Her book, The Greek Fire: American-Ottoman Relations and Democratic Fervor in the Age of Revolutions, published by Cornell University Press, is available online.

Kaliambou mentioned the folk tales which have been passed down through the generations which feature women fighters in the Revolution. Her book, The Routledge Modern Greek Reader: Greek Folktales for Learning Modern Greek, was published in 2015. Kaliambou is working on a new book with the tentative title, The Book Culture of Greek Americans. Her research focuses on the dialogue between folklore and book history, particularly in the diaspora. She is also interested in foreign language pedagogy, especially teaching Modern Greek.

The event, part of EMBCA’s American Hellenic Revolution of 1821 Bicentennial Committee series for the upcoming 200th anniversary of the Hellenic Revolution, is available on EMBCA’s YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/uUpp1EjYC68.

More information is available online: https://embca.com.

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