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Literature

Historic Postcards Highlight Book by Dimitra Kamarinou

November 29, 2020

As buried treasure comes to light and reveals precious moments of the past, so a dusty album of historic postcards became the rich source material for the book Kare Istorias: Agones ton Ellinon 1821-1923 (History Frames: Struggles of the Greeks 1821-1923) by Dr. Dimitra Kamarinou, a former columnist for The National Herald and a graduate in History and Archeology, PhD from the University of Patras.

Delving into the collection of historic postcards of her ancestor, Sotirios Kamarinos (1875-1963), a philologist and High School Principal at the First Gymnasium of Athens, Kamarinou has written an impressive history illustrated by the postcards and offering insights relevant to today.

The book illustrates a century of struggles of the Greek people, to liberate territories where Greeks had deep roots. How were the borders of modern Greece established? How did the Treaty of Lausanne come about and what exactly does it define?

Kamarinou has done postgraduate studies at the Universities of Wurzburg and Bochum in Germany and postdoctoral research at the British Archaeological School of Athens as a scholarship holder from IKY (the Greek State Scholarships Foundation). She was a columnist for The National Herald for a number of years. In 2006, she was honored with the award from the Academy of Athens in Archeology and in 2011, with the award in the International Literary Competition for her short story titled "The Parthenon Marbles: The History of a Theft or the Theft of History.”

In the book, she composes the story through three perspectives. The first is the official history. The narration of the historical events and the diplomatic acts that took place from 1821 to 1923 is visualized through the photographic "Frames of History" in the Sotirios Kamarinos collection and in paintings. The second perspective concerns the experiences of those who fought. Words of leaders and typical grandparents' narratives connect the national with the oral history. The third highlights the voice and the feeling of the people who experienced these events through selected verses by poets of the time.

The book also offers information about the history of our neighbors. How were our neighboring nation-states created out of the Ottoman Empire? What did they claim from our lands and history? How were alliances formed and when were we rivals? Two hundred years after the Revolution of 1821, this book presents simply and concisely, with photographs and maps, the historical events and the international treaties on which the current confrontations with our neighbors are based.

The issue of the creation of nation-states that characterized the 19th century is directly related to the choice of national identity. The book concludes with a narrative of how we built our national identity on ancient Greek culture, beginning with the founding of the modern Greek state. It examines what antiquities mean and what value they carry through the award-winning short story by Kamarinou on the Parthenon Marbles.

Photography, painting, poetry, and literature combine with wonderful artistic design to bring this timely history to life for readers today. As George Santayana wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Kamarinou offers us an opportunity to learn from the past since education for peace – from external enemies but also civil strife – is built on the knowledge of history.

On September 23, the book was presented at the Fougaro Art Center in Nafplio in collaboration with three important institutions of the city and speakers George Kondis, Lecturer at the Department of Theatrical Studies of Nafplio and President of the Writers 'and Writers' Union Argolidas, Theodosis Spantideas, President of the historic Progressive Association of Nafplio O Palamidis, and Nikos Boumbaris, President of the Association of Philologists of Argolis. The evening ended with a dramatic reading featuring the narrators Dina Kalogeropoulou and Stelios Karatasos. A video of the presentation is available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/fFTp-7DYttA.

Kamarinou also presented the book on October 15 on the television program Evening Report with Giorgos Kouvaras on channel Action24.

The book, Kare Istorias: Agones ton Ellinon 1821-1923 by Dr. Dimitra Kamarinou is available online: https://www.protoporia.gr/kamarinoy-dhmhtra-kare-istorias-agwnes-twn-ellhnwn-1821-1923-9789609292856.html.

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