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From «Pax Ottomanica» to «Pax Europaea»

The growth and decline of a Greek village’s micro-economy

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Dimitrios Konstadakopulos

The macroeconomic development of south-eastern Europe has been profoundly affected not only by the region’s major historical events – for example, liberation from the Ottoman Empire, the outbreak of civil wars, and the birth of new nations – but also by global events, such as the world-wide conflicts of the twentieth century, and the recent transnational processes of globalisation and European integration. The rationale of this book is to employ a comprehensive micro-history – that is, the history of one particular community: in this case, the village of Tsamantas, in north-western Greece – as a means of providing a detailed picture that will permit extrapolation to a wider context. Situated in one of the most isolated parts of the region of Epirus, Tsamantas has a complex history and a rich folk culture. At times, it has been a textbook example of how decision-making within a community can impact upon the success of the local economy. Its inhabitants have been rational problem-solvers, with a sense of what is in their family’s best interests, rather than passive victims of circumstance, and their choices at critical points in the village’s history have resulted either in growth or decline. The author focuses his groundbreaking analysis on these choices, drawing upon publications, archived materials, and illuminating oral accounts of local events.
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Chapter 7: The Years of War (1940–1949)

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The Years of War (1940–1949)

The decade of the 1940s was without doubt the most wretched era in the long and complex history of Epirus. The Axis occupation, and the traumatically divisive civil war that followed, brought prolonged terror and suffering into the lives of its people, the scars of which remain to the present day. The borderland communities of Epirus, in particular, were profoundly affected by the fighting and consequent devastation, and the events that occurred in and around the village of Tsamantas have a significant part to play in our understanding of this momentous decade in the history of south-east Europe. In order to interpret human behaviour and motivation in a time of crisis, we will utilise the testimonies of people who lived in or near the village during the 1940s, describing their experiences in the wars, and how their community changed as a result of what happened. Alex Kingsbury points out that the value of using local accounts is that different people’s stories provide a mosaic, and that ‘the more pieces are collected, the clearer the overall picture’ (2007: 48). A more cautious view of this approach is put forward by Anna Collard, who carried out extensive fieldwork in a remote village in central Greece between 1977 and 1979: although she agrees that the data provided by oral testimonies can be invaluable in the absence of written accounts, she warns that they are no substitute for properly documenting...

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