The communities of the Hellenic diaspora have been the cradle of Modern Greek benefaction. Eminent entrepreneurs acting as benefactors undertake works of common interest, substituting for the official state, collectivities and institutions. The benefactor realises a personal epopee in the service of the common good. Benefaction for him represents a defining passion determining his/her personal and collective functioning.
Benefaction as historical phenomenon continues today, mainly in the form of institutional benefaction.
History, ideology, personal and social mechanisms underlying the practice of benefaction are thoroughly analysed in the frame of the theory that benefactors represent organic intellectuals of the bourgeoisie during the age of its historical ascendency as well as in the present era. of its world hegemony.
The Society for the Study of Hellenic Diaspora organized an international conference, on June 6, 2008 in Athens, on “The Flight of Egyptiot Greeks” and attracted historians and researchers from universities of the UK, the USA, Egypt and Greece. The Conference was kindly supported by J. F. Kostopoulou Foundation. The focus of the conference, the exodus of the Greeks from Egypt in the 1950s and early 1960s inaugurated a new chapter in the study of the Greek diaspora and it also gave many Greeks from Egypt – known as Egyptiot – Greeks or more commonly as Egyptiotes—who are now settled in Athens an opportunity to learn and reflect on the final phase of the more than century-long significant and demographically extensive Greek presence in Egypt. It was also an occasion that enabled all participants to recall what is generally considered a long-standing amicable relationship between Egypt and Greece and one which withstood the strains of the Greek exodus.
We hope that the proceedings of the conference, here, will serve as a means of continuing the dialogue
The Greeks were pioneers in cotton production, whether by introducing new methods of processing -Theodoros Rallis’ steam machines for instance, or by expanding production, such as Ioannis Zerbinis, who was the first to produce cotton oil and then soap, fertilizer and forage, or by creating new varieties of cotton, like N. Paracheimonas “Pelion”, Voltos Brothers’ “Voltos”, I. Sakellaridis’ “Sakel”, and others.
At the beginning of the 20th century, cotton represented 80 per cent of the total Egypt export, a quarter of this export was accomplished by five Greeks – Choremis, Benakis, Kazoulis, Salvagos, and Rodokanakis, along with their staff.
The subject of this book (Volumes I – II) is the analysis of the ideology of the benefaction as well as the national and social consciousness which have been cultivated within the Greek Diaspora of Egypt. The wills of prominent actors of the Greek Community of Cairo (Ampet Brothers, Ev. Achillopoulos, Dim. Spetseropoulos, Kon. Xenakis, T. Kotsikas, St. Manoussakis, N. Tsanaklis) highlight their action characteristics, while the phenomenon of the benefaction is defined through the era specifics (19th – 20th century) and the process of transition to modernity.
The second book in the series of Professor Tomara-Sideri’s trilogy on the history of the Greeks of Egypt examines the course of the Greek Community of Cairo. From the times of Mohammed Ali’s reign up to Nasser’s Revolution, Greek merchants and families, simple workers and important businessmen, artists and writers lived and worked in the Egypt’s capital. A spectacular reconstruction of the past, the book presents us their Works and Days with vitality and reflection. Currently in its 2nd edition.
A thorough and exciting description of the Greeks settled in Alexandria, Egypt for more than a century through the lives of the members of three of the most prominent Greek- Alexandrian families: The Choremi, Benachi and Salvago’s. The book is currently in its 4th edition. M. Tomara-Sideri was awarded for her book the Prize of the Academy of Athens in 2006.
Chapter 8, by Matoula Tomara – Sideris Women’s Status in the Greek Colonies of Egypt
Migration is a gendered process (Tastsoglou and Maratou – Alipranti 2003). The Greek community in Egypt (mid – nineteenth to mid-twentieth century) is constituted according to the century-long journey tradition particular to Greeks and within the context colonialism’s consolidation, development and crisis, following a familiar, overtly gendered pattern: At first, mainly unwed men settle, for whom woman is an object of want and longing. Women follow, mainly as “family material”. Then the community’s endogenous dynamics become central, redefining gender relations within evolving contexts. This chapter considers the roles, status and activities differently located Greek women in Egypt across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As a result, it examines the gendered dimensions of the Egyptiot community at multiple levels (demographic, social, economic, cultural, political) in their historical context.
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