The Role of Social Networks in Conditions of Political Oppression

Sub-Project Supervisor: Kallivretakis Leonidas, Research Director IHR/NHRF

Research Associate (adjunct): Eleni Kouki, PhD in Modern History (2014-2015, 2018), Yannis Papakondylis, PhD candidate in Modern History (2019-2020), George Vlachos, PhD candidate in Modern History (2014-2015), Triada Bisbiroula, undergraduate student in Sociology (2014), Rika Sakalak, undergraduate student in Philology (2014).

Description: The purpose of the present research project is to document, map and investigate the part played by cultural and social networks, during the Greek military dictatorship of 1967-1974. The proliferation and the expansion of the activities of these networks, and the exchange of ideas and life-attitudes within them, are largely explained by the dissolution of political structures after the military coup and explain to a large extent, the transition to collective action and massive politicization witnessed in the last period of the regime. The dissolution of all political organizations and the ban on political activities in the aftermath of the April 21, 1967 coup, led to the creation of underground organizations, that expressed their opposition to the regime through various actions, from the distribution of improvised tracts to the use of explosive devices. However important these actions were, challenging the omnipotence of those in power, they remained a limited phenomenon. In a second step, as a new generation entered the academic and social arena, there began the re-evaluation of various venues already functioning as centers of cultural, artistic and other activities, as well as the creation of new venues with a similar nature. We refer to venues such as publishing houses, bookstores, quality theaters, artistic movie theaters, art galleries, music halls, foreign cultural institutes, cultural clubs, youth hangouts, etc., which became a systematic point of reference for an ever-expanding audience that frequented them, not only as passive viewers, listeners or readers, but also in order to communicate with others who had similar concerns. Step by step, these venues proliferated, setting up a cross-hatch of interrelated networks, through which there took place the acquaintance with and the exchange of ideas, concerns, and ultimately information, while occasionally they functioned as a preliminary step in joining the underground organizations. Focal points in this approach are also the educational institutions, such as the universities, as well as the major preparatory schools in downtown Athens. Without studying the formation and evolution of these networks, which played a critical role in the passage of individual attitudes into collective action and from spontaneous contestation to conscious politicization, we cannot understand the «sudden» appearance, in the last period of the dictatorship, of a new, robust and vibrant political movement, which led to the most important mass protests against the regime.