Drawing on the insights of the French Geographical School and key ideas of Arnold Toynbee and Samuel Huntington, Prevelakis redefines modern Hellenism as a residue of Hellenic civilisation, left over from the diluting historical waves after the fall of Rome. Greeks share the Hellenic heritage with western and eastern Europeans, Muslims and Jews. Language, religion, landscapes and certain other less visible elements, however, link Greeks more directly to Hellenic civilisation.
Prevelakis argues that the Greek nation-state was a necessary adaptation of modern Hellenism to the conditions of modernity that emerged after the European Wars of Religion. Alongside of the advantages of this early move among Ottoman populations to adopt modernity, Greeks also paid a heavy price for the mal-adaptation of this foreign form to their culture. But times are changing and the geopolitical, geo-economic and geo-cultural environment again seems favourable to certain traditional traits of modern Hellenism. Certain characteristics such as diaspora networks survived the pressure of the nationalist ethos, Greek and non-Greek, and are reemerging now. Other traits such as local identities still exist in latent forms.
In a period of national pessimism, these possibilities can renew optimism. However, modern Hellenism will not be able to grasp the new opportunities offered by globalisation, the information society, the return of religious identities and the new global geopolitical structures unless it preserves and rehabilitates those characteristics that have been and still are under pressure by the ideal of the nation-state. Together with the need to rationalise the functioning of state institutions, it is urgent to recognise the importance of the Hellenic heritages connected not only with territorial but also with non-territorial geographies.
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