History, identity and her own feelings about what it means to be Greek were all topics touched on in an interview with distinguished historian and academic Katherine E. Fleming, during an interview with the Athens-Macedonian New Agency (ANA) published on Monday.
A known philhellene specialising in modern Greek history, who has been given honorary Greek citizenship, Fleming noted that being Greek meant many different things to her:
“As a historian it makes me think – in the same way that history makes me think – about the changing nature of national and ethnic identities. People that were once one thing can become something else and this is a phenomenon going back thousands of years. On an emotional level, ‘to be Greek’ makes me feel a genuine pride and, above all, great gratitude to a country and a people that have given me a great deal,” she said.
Interviewed a few days before she is presented with an honorary doctorate from the University of Macedonia International and European Studies Department on Wednesday, Fleming also spoke about the new tools that historians now have at their disposal to study history, whether events commemorating the Holocaust can act as a protection against a rise in anti-Semitism and whether school history textbooks need to be rewritten so as to the “wounds” inflicted by past wars to close.
Fleming is New York University Provost and the Alexander S. Onassis Professor of Hellenic Culture and Civilization in the Department of History at NYU. She is also a director at the Remarque Institute and a permanent associate member of the faculty of the department of history of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where she runs a longstanding workshop on the history of the Mediterranean with the French historian of Italy, Gilles Pécout.
She specializes in the modern history of Greece and the broader Mediterranean context, with a particular focus on religious minorities and is a prolific author. Her latest book is “Greece – A Jewish History” and explores the history of Greece’s Jewish community.