Faculty Profile: Molly Greene *93

Nov 13, 2018

Molly Greene, professor of history and Hellenic studies, was appointed director of the Program in Hellenic Studies in the spring of 2018.

Greene came to Princeton as a graduate student in the mid-1980s. While she did her doctoral work in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, she became Princeton’s first graduate student in Hellenic studies.

“I had lived in Greece for four years and learned the language, but as much as I loved Greece, I felt that concentrating on modern Greece for my dissertation work was too narrow,” said Greene. “I had also studied Arabic while in Greece and was interested in the Middle East; I came to Princeton to study the modern Middle East, reluctantly leaving Greece behind.”

However, after taking a course in the Ottoman Empire and meeting with the Seeger Center’s current director, Dimitri Gondicas ’78, Greene said a lightbulb went off.

“I realized that I could study the Greek world within the context of the Ottoman Empire. It is a vast world, much bigger than the modern state of Greece, and I came to realize that I found empires much more interesting and compelling than nation-states.”

Much of Greene’s research has focused on the Mediterranean. Presently, however, Greene is leaving the sea behind and turning her focus to the mountains. “Although people associate Greece with islands and the sea, most of the country is in fact mountainous,” she said. 

Greene is writing a history of the Pindus range during the Ottoman period. The Pindus mountains run down the western part of Greece from the border with Albania to the Gulf of Corinth. Greene spent much of the past summer in Greece, conducting research for her book project.

For the last few years, she has taught a junior seminar related to this research, “Bandits, Mercenaries and Warlords: Irregular Warfare in Historical Perspective.”

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