Political Refugees of the 1848–1849 Revolutions in the Kingdom of Greece: Migration, Nationalism, and State Formation in the Nineteenth-Century Mediterranean
- Journal of Modern Greek Studies
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 37, Number 1, May 2019
- pp. 1-33
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This article investigates the arrival and reception of political refugees of the 1848–1849 revolutions in the Kingdom of Greece. In addition to providing a new chapter on the transnational history of the so-called forty-eighters across Europe, I examine their presence in Greece in relation to broader questions concerning the nature of Greek nationalism and state formation during the mid-nineteenth century. Specifically, this study shows that the refugees, who fled mostly from Italy in late 1849, did not find in Greece the long-term hospitality they anticipated. After a short halcyon period, the humanitarian crisis and the supposed radical political threat that the arrival of the refugees posed pushed the Greek government to enact harsh policies against them. These measures ranged from shutting down Greece’s borders to new political fugitives to deporting the most prominent émigrés. At the same time, the Greek public sphere remained essentially unwilling to reverse this policy. This development, I argue, demonstrated the limits of Greco-Italian nationalist solidarity, which originated in the revolutions of the 1820s. A study of these limits can lead to a more nuanced analysis of nineteenth-century Mediterranean nationalisms. Lastly, I claim that these counterrefugee policies contributed significantly to a considerable expansion of state authority in 1850s Greece, which had notable parallels with the administrative reforms in many other European states after 1848.