- Haunted by the "Enemy" Within: Brigandage, Vlachian/Albanian Greekness, Turkish "Contamination," and Narratives of Greek Nationhood in the Dilessi/Marathon Affair (1870)
- Journal of Modern Greek Studies
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 20, Number 1, May 2002
- p. pp. 47-74
- View Citation
This essay explores Greek and British observations on the phenomenon of brigandage in Greece following a major Anglo-Greek diplomatic episode known as "The Dilessi/Marathon Murders" (1870). Brigandage in Greece was extensively discussed abroad after the foundation of the Greek state in the 1830s. The Dilessi Murders, however, triggered a debate in Britain on Greece's inability to become a fully modernized state. Other European voices, sympathetic or not, also joined this debate. The unhappy coincidence of this "trial" with the creation of the Neohellenic imagined community produced an internal (Greek) debate that was nicely reflected in the rhetoric of Greek journalism and administration. In this debate brigandage was represented as an "epidemic" phenomenon communicated to Greece from Turkey. The Turks had managed to contaminate the "nation" with the help of the Vlachs and the Albanians who lived within the Greek Kingdom. These populations were subsequently expelled from the "nation" through a series of symbolic actions. This discourse, which was crystallized after the Dilessi Affair, assumed a double function in the Greek imaginary: as a response to British and indeed European accusations of Greek backwardness, and as an expression of the Vlachian/Albanian contribution to the process of Neohellenic self-recognition.