Monday, October 03, 2011

Reporting from Athens: The Ohio Tradition

When William Caraher was Carpenter professor at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in 2007, he started an interesting experiment: blogging his experiences of Greece for a digital audience. His New (and Old) Archaeology of the Mediterranean World has been one of the most enduring and popular blogs, which Caraher continues to write from North Dakota, Cyrpus or Australia. Caraher's reporting from Athens was captivating for readers who had been through the ASCSA program and were hungry to read accounts of daily life. The experiment of reporting from abroad did not die with Caraher's return to the U.S. Katie Rask picked up the torch as a fellow at the ASCSA with Antiquated Vagaries. Among a myriad of other things, Rask conducted urban topographies of 20th-century Athenian avant-gardes, a unique oral history project and the first documentary record of archaeologist tombstones.

Beginning as foreign correspondents, both Caraher and Rask created a coherent genre that became addictive. It is with great pleasure that I learned today that blogging from the American School continues with Dallas de Forrest's Mediterranean Palimpsest launched on Sept. 18. What is fascinating about the Caraher, Rask, de Forrest trilogy is one common thread, namely Ohio State University. Superficially, this link reveals an organic circle of friendships and the need for human encouragement for blogging that defies the inherent digital distance. But I think there is something more important to the Ohio connection. Those following the current debates over Modern Greek Studies in the U.S. are aware of the concept of Ohiology, put forth in the May 1998 issue of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies. Ohiology refers to a highly theoretical strand of the discipline that received criticism by older generations of scholars. Although they may not agree with my assertion, Ohio State contains a powerhouse of theoretical Hellenism: Gregory Jusdanis, Georgios Anagnostou, Anthony Kardellis, Tim Gregory. To use a Greek colloquium, δεν παίζονται. Caraher, Rask and de Forrest are archaeologists with no stakes in Modern Greek areas studies. Yet, their sensitivity to post-classical Greece is so incredibly acute that the imprint of Ohio cannot be coincidental. It is with great pleasure that I read Mediterranean Palimpsest as the third manifestation of a blogging genre. I have no doubt that future historians will assess the postings from Greece as primary documents of a new digital relationship with a physically present Greece.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing the new blog out.
I enjoyed reading Rask's blog ever so much and still do with D. Carragher's.
I think what i like most is observing (from a native's point of view) what they find fascinating in Greek life -while we take it for granted.

V. Pliatsika

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States