Friday, August 27, 2010

Tanagras 1925 Portrait

While visiting my Aunt Kalliope in Athens, I noticed this autographed portrait of Angelos Tanagras (her dearly loved uncle) hanging in the living room. The lighting was low and I wasn't able to take a good photo. Next time, I hope to take it out of the frame and scan it. It's definitely the greatest photo of Tanagras I've ever seen. As the medals testify, he was an admiral and decorated for his contributions to the navy as a medical doctor. For instance, he set up the medical relief program after the burning of Smyrna in 1922 (only three years before this photo was taken).

Although Tanagras died years before I was born, his presence remained physical in the family through his admiral's hat that respectfully rested on a ledge in my grandmother's house.

My aunt Kalliope was named after Tanagras' mother. And our daughter Kalliope is named after both my aunt and my great great aunt.

Paranormal Research in Pennsylvania

Returning to blogging after my summer hiatus, I turn my attention to three people revolving around the constellation of paranormal archaeology: Bill Caraher's Dream Archaeology, my great uncle Tanagras and my colleague at F&M anthropologist Misty Bastian.

If you remember, a couple of years ago Yannis Hamilakis wrote on the relationship between modern (objective) and premodern (less objective) archaeological relationships. He argued that Greeks had an indigenous relationship to archaeology before the emergence of a professional modern discipline. The erasure of this earlier mode the profession constitutes a form of colonialism. For the details, see Hamilakis, Y. 2008. Decolonising Greek archaeology: indigenous archaeologies, modernist archaeology, and the post-colonial critique. In Damaskos, D. and Plantzos, D. (eds), A Singular Antiquity. Athens: The Benaki Museum, pp. 273-84. (Download PDF here) Hamilakis discusses these ideas in his ground breaking book, The Nation and Its Ruins (Oxford, 2007)

Analyzing Late Antique, Byzantine and Early Modern case studies, Bill Caraher began an exploration of dream archaeology, an aspect of indigenous archaeology where dream visions direct archaeological investigation. See, Caraher's working draft here.

All these inspirations made me contemplate my great uncle Angelos Tanagras, one of the founders of Psychical Research in the early 20th century. I blogged about him (here) and about his relationship to archaeology (here). Thanks to those postings, I have come into contact with two prominent historians of Tanagras, Peter Mulacz and Nikolaos Koumartzis. Mulacz is the Vice President of the Austrian Society of Psychical Research. He has sent me the photo above showing the 1930 meeting of the Society of Psychical Research in Athens. Nikolaos Koumartzis has published a much-needed history, Psychical Research in Greece, Paranormal Greece: Psychical Research in Greece (Athens, 2009).

While attending F&M's conference on the curriculum, I got a quick chance to catch up with my colleague Misty Bastian in Anthropology. She quickly filled me in on her fascinating new research on paranormal Pennsylvania. You can read all about it in Haunted Hackman (The Diplomat, Aug. 26, 2010). Now, I look forward to future conversations, virtual, real and even paranormal. Bastian is best known for her work in Nigeria and infamous among students for her seminars on magic (ancient, modern, western and non-nonwestern).

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States