Mary Seeger O'Boyle Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2019-2020
Argyro Nicolaou is a writer, filmmaker and scholar from the island of Cyprus. She specializes in the representation of migration in literature, film, and visual art with a focus on 20th - 21st century Greek culture and the Mediterranean region. Other research interests include Cypriot literatures; contemporary Middle Eastern visual art and cinema; island literature; and the relationship between art and activism. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Critical Media Practice from Harvard University. Dr. Nicolaou's dissertation, titled "Europe and the Cultural Politics of Mediterranean Migrations", examined the ways in which narratives of migration have shaped Europe's relationship with its southern and eastern Mediterranean neighbors from antiquity to the present day. In 2017 - 2018 she was the recipient of Harvard's Bowdoin Prize, and her research has been supported by the Mahindra Humanities Center (Harvard); the Center for European Studies (Harvard); and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (Harvard). Dr. Nicolaou's scholarly work has appeared in the Journal of Mediterranean Studies and is scheduled to appear in the American Historical Review (forthcoming February 2020). Her films and video works have been screened at festivals and exhibitions in New York, Boston, Cyprus, and Romania. In 2018 - 2019 Dr. Nicolaou was a part of the Museum of Modern Art's Media and Performance curatorial staff.
As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton, Dr. Nicolaou will examine the representation of displacements caused by the Second World War in Modern Greek prose writing between 1939 and 1965. The project will focus on five works of literature written by authors who were themselves displaced and/or persecuted during the war: George Seferis’ diaries; Elias Venezis’ novel Έξοδος [Exodos] (1950); Stratis Tsirkas’ novel Αριάγνη [Ariagni] (1965); Elli Papademitriou’s oral histories Κοινός Λόγος [Koinos Logos] (first published in 1972); and Lilian Benrubi-Abastado’s childhood diaries, Τα Τετράδια της Λίνας [Lina’s Exercise Books] (first published 1999). Taken together, these works bear testament to a polyphonic, cross-cultural literary production that not only highlights the diverse voices that are part of the modern Greek literary tradition, but also engages genres as divergent as the diary, the oral history, and the novel. One of the goals of this project is to analyze the relationship between artistic production and historical and/or political narratives. How does the experience of displacement affect the authors’ understanding of Greek history and its relationship to the European tradition? How do their works then shape the modern Greek cultural imaginary about displacement? As part of her research, Dr. Nicolaou also hopes to organize a film and exhibition program on contemporary Greek and other Mediterranean visual artists grappling with the theme of displacement in their work.