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I joined the School of History in September 2018 as a Research Fellow on the ERC-funded project ‘Dictatorship as experience: a comparative history of everyday life and the ‘lived experience’ of dictatorship in Mediterranean Europe (1922-1975)’ led by Dr Kate Ferris. I was previously the Macmillan-Rodewald Postdoctoral Student at the British School at Athens (2018), and an Associate Lecturer in the Department of History and the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past, University of York (2017-2018). I hold a PhD in history from the University of York, for which I focused on the experiences of Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians who left Istanbul and the island Imbros (Gökçeada) between c. 1950 and 1980 and settled in Greece. I have taught courses on public history, oral history, the Holocaust and genocide, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, decolonisation, urban history, modern British history, and historical methodologies.
My research focuses on conflict, displacement, memory, and public history from an interdisciplinary standpoint, combining archival research with oral history, ethnographic fieldwork, and methodological techniques from the digital humanities. In particular, I work on the history of the Mediterranean world and former Ottoman territories, placing this research within a global context by exploring transcultural memory, transnational migration and diaspora activism, and the impact of mass media and digitisation. I also have teaching and research interests in Holocaust memory and Holocaust education, and I lead the pedagogic outreach project Personalising History, which develops techniques and resources for teaching about the Holocaust in a post-witness era through innovative use of oral history testimony.
Greeks without Greece: migration, memory, and belonging in the Mediterranean
One of my primary research interests lies in identity and the uses of the past amongst displaced communities in Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey. My monograph Greeks without Greece (Routledge, 2019) focuses on the experiences of Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians who left Istanbul and Imbros (Gökçeada) between c. 1950 and 1980 and settled in Greece. Discriminated against in Turkey on the basis of their ethnic and religious identity, these expatriates received a lukewarm reception in Greece from a government and populace who viewed them with suspicion due to their Turkish birthplace. I demonstrate that the Greeks of Turkey respond to these challenges to their legitimacy as members of the national community by drawing on the past to emphasise the particularities of their local heritages. I have elsewhere published on how the Greeks of Istanbul claim descent from Byzantium as a means of differentiating themselves from the inhabitants of Greece whilst also affirming that they themselves are particularly Greek (Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 2014), and on shifting representations of Turks/Turkey and Greeks/Greece in Istanbul Greek and Greek Cypriot oral testimonies (Modern Greek Studies, 2014). My research in this area also considers return migration, and my work on the Greek return to Imbros was featured on the BBC World Service’s Outlook programme in 2013.
Placeless memories? Transcultural memory, digital memory, and place
A central aspect of my research concerns the changing (and enduring) nature of memory, identity, and place in a globalising and digitising world. In particular, I look at the construction, negotiation, and contestation of Ottoman and post-Ottoman history by Armenian, Greek, Kurdish, and Turkish activists and Internet users. In an article in History & Memory (2018), I discuss how the expatriated Greeks of Turkey, in print and digital media, articulate and publicise narratives of their repression in Turkey by cross-referencing with the experiences and memories of other persecuted communities, most notably the Armenians, the Kurds, and the Jews. I have also conducted research on mutual expressions of solidarity and commonality by Armenian and Kurdish Internet users, and how these led to a tendency for Kurdish users to apologise for Kurdish complicity in the 1915 Armenian genocide. I am editor of a special issue of the journal Memory Studies (forthcoming 2021) which focuses on the role of place in digital memory.
In situ loss of place: landscape, ontological security, and environmental change
During my research into the effects of displacement through migration, I became interested in the inverse situation: people who have experienced loss of place not through population movement, but due to major changes to their local environments and landscapes. As the 2017-2018 Macmillan-Rodewald Postdoctoral Student at the British School at Athens, I investigated how a 1970s land reclamation and redistribution project that drastically redrew the topography of the West Thessalian plain affected local communities’ sense of belonging, their sense of place, and their sense of ontological security. Taking an approach that combined oral history with archival sources and ethnographic field walks, I uncovered a salient shared memory of the land reclamation/redistribution as an overwhelmingly positive change, tempered, nevertheless, with a discernible sense of loss over the way things were in the days before the environmental changes. I am exploring similar case studies pertaining to environmental change caused not only by land reclamation but also by depopulation, natural disaster, and slum clearance.
Dictatorship as experience: everyday life under the regimes of Metaxas (1936-1941) and the Colonels (1967-1974) in Greece
As a Research Fellow in the School of History, I am exploring the everyday experience of dictatorship in Greece. I am focusing in particular on the Colonels’ regime, investigating how their rule affected everyday politics, social life, and religiosity; how ordinary Greeks navigated modalities of assent, dissent, and detachment; and how people drew on (post)memories of the Metaxas period, the occupation of Greece, and the Greek Civil War to process their contemporary everyday experiences of dictatorship.
Halstead, H. (2019). Greeks without Greece: Homelands, Belonging, and Memory amongst the Expatriated Greeks of Turkey. Routledge.
Halstead, H. (2018). ‘“Ask the Assyrians, Armenians, Kurds”: Transcultural Memory and Nationalism in Greek Historical Discourse on Turkey’. History & Memory 30(2): 3-39.
Halstead, H. (2014). ‘Heirs to Byzantium: Identity and the Helleno-Romaic Dichotomy amongst the Istanbul Greek Migrant Community in Greece.’ Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 38(2): 265-284.
Halstead, H. (2014). ‘Harmony and Strife in Memories of Greek-Turkish Intercommunal Relationships in Istanbul and Cyprus.’ Journal of Modern Greek Studies 32(2): 393-415.