The Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies supports more than a dozen postdoctoral research, visiting, and library fellows each year who conduct intensive research at Princeton. Former Seeger fellows have published hundreds of books with leading publishers and thousands of articles. Their scholarship reflects the broad, interdisciplinary nature of Hellenic Studies, spanning fields from history to religion to literature, and periods from antiquity to the present.

In the inaugural edition of our Director’s Bookshelf series, Seeger Center Director Dimitri Gondicas speaks with historian Ada Dialla about her new book Η Ρωσική Αυτοκρατορία και ο  ελληνικός κόσμος (Russian Empire and the Greek World), published by Alexandria Publications in 2023. Dialla is a professor of Modern and Contemporary European History, Department of Theory and History of Arts, Athens School of Fine Arts and was a visiting research fellow at the Seeger Center in 2019.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

How did this book project begin?  

In 2018, I was inspired by new approaches to studying the so-called Age of Revolutions that examine the revolutions as local phenomena and expressions of regional and global processes. This scholarly literature has decentralized European history from France and the Americas to a broader understanding of Europe and the Atlantic that captures the Mediterranean, Haiti, and South America. These works usually mention the Greek Revolution en passant, if at alland do not take Russia into account. During that period, however, Russia was at its peak as a European and global power, playing an active role in the Greek Revolution and its outcome. My project aimed to re-center the Greek Revolution of 1821 by placing it in a longer revolutionary narrative and a new global politics, emphasizing the Russian-Greek nexus from 1770 to 1821.            

Please tell us about your time at the Seeger Center and the research you conducted then.

I stayed at the Seeger Center for three-and-a-half very productive months. It was a unique opportunity to work on my book in an intellectually challenging environment that allows the exchange of ideas. In discussions with colleagues from the History Department, I clarified the theoretical frame of my inquiry. My interaction with the faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting fellows at the Seeger Center was constant and very fruitful. I discussed my thoughts and ideas with Princeton faculty members, visiting scholars, invited speakers, students, and colleagues from other institutions.

How did that research impact your work as a whole and this book project?

My stay at Princeton was crucial to writing my book and influenced my approach to historiographical trends. Moreover, brief trips in the vicinity of Princeton, which is rich in historical venues associated with the American Revolution, sharpened my scientific curiosity regarding the Age of Revolutions, especially the nexus of local and global. 

What would you like your readers to learn from this book?

“From the Periphery to the Center” could be an alternative title. By examining the Greek Revolution from a Russian and Eurasian perspective, the book expands the space of intellectual exchanges during the Age of Revolutions. By placing the Greek case in the middle, the book creates a polycentric picture of the Age of Revolutions, tracing a more complex European map of historical experiences.  

A transformative journey to Greece inspired Stanley J. Seeger to found Hellenic Studies programs at Princeton. Please tell us about a journey that expanded your intellectual horizons or influenced your research. 

In my travels in the United States, I had the opportunity to understand better this vast country that has captivated the imagination of the entire world. These trips affected my worldview and made me appreciate different perspectives and viewpoints.