Alex Tipei – Palgrave MacMillan – Korais’s Greece and Napoleon’s Empire: The Egyptian Campaign, Race Science, and the Europeanization an Idea

Read Alex Tipei’s article on Springer Link.  

This chapter tracks the so-called father of Greek nationalism, Adamantios Korais’s, efforts to define and promote a Greek identity from the vantage point of his integration in French academic and political circles. It first situates Korais in his historiographical and historical context and demonstrates how, during the last years of the eighteenth century, he responded positively to French imperial ambitions in the Ottoman lands. Next, the chapter posits that Bonaparte’s defeat in Egypt coupled with the restoration of slavery in the Caribbean made space for new ideas about civilization and race in France. Reacting to the altering political and scientific climate, Korais imagined a more thoroughly European Greece. Locating his Greece beyond the reach of formal French imperialism, Korais helped delineate Europe’s geographic, cultural, and racial borders. The chapter concludes by discussing how arguments Korais crafted during the Napoleonic era outlasted the emperor’s regime, finding new life during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1828). In short, the chapter argues that the rise of a less universalist concept of civilization coupled with the racialization of the Napoleon’s empire encouraged Korais to develop a more squarely European idea Greece that long outlived the period.

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