Hannah Seeger Davis Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2017-2018
Daphne Lappa earned a BA in History from the University of Crete (Greece) and a Master and PhD from the European University Institute of Florence (Italy). Her research interests engage with different aspects of religious group formation and cross-confessional dynamics in the pre-modern Eastern Mediterranean as well as their residues in the world of nation-states. Her doctoral project focused on the religious conversion of Jews and Muslims to Christianity in early modern Venice and Venetian Corfu (mid-17th to 18th c.). She then earned a Post-Doctoral fellowship at the Digital Humanities Laboratory of the Polytechnic School of Lausanne (Switzerland). There she expanded her PhD project into a study of the cross-confessional networks formed within the proselytization context, while also experimenting with digital tools of network visualization and analysis. Daphne’s new project focuses on the Greek-Orthodox living in the city of Corfu between 18th and early 19th centuries with a view to (a) unearthing the local versions of early modern Greek-Orthodox Christianity; and (b) tracing the broader confessionalization process within the Greek-Orthodox Church that sought to suppress the various local versions and impose a stricter orthodoxy and orthopraxy on the Church.
What did it mean to be Greek-Orthodox in the pre-modern world? Was this a uniform category across Greek-Orthodox populations, as traditional historiography has claimed ? Or, could it take on different, local contents? In other words, was there more than one way of being Greek-Orthodox? The project explores these questions by taking a comparative approach to Ottoman and Venetian Greek-Orthodox living in the border-city of Corfu in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Drawing on a variety of written and visual sources and treating Greek-Orthodox religiosity as an analytical category whose social, political and cultural contingencies are to be unravelled, the project argues that in the pre-modern world there were different versions of Greek-Orthodox Christianity determined on a local level as well as entrenched in different political and cultural entities. Moreover, by following the mutations of Venetian and Ottoman Greek-Orthodox religiosity in the second half of the 18th century, the project reflects on whether this period marked the beginning of the Greek Church’s “confessionalization era”, entailing the “orthodoxization” of the Church, after the religiously turbulent 17th century, and the interlinked demise of a culture of accommodation that had prevailed in the previous centuries.