Saturday, June 12, 2010

National Team of Immigrants

One way to look at U.S. soccer is not as a "foreign" sport but as a register of American immigration policy. Today's World Cup game against England was the most ever watched match in American history. I hope all the proud American spectators appreciated the tapestry of immigrants representing the U.S. The great majority of the 23-member squad is hyphenated-American, sons of immigrants from Latin American, Africa and Europe (Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, Brazil, Nigeria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Scotland).

Goalkeeper Tim Howard's mother is Hungarian and his father is African-American (Howard should also be a poster boy for Turette syndrome). Clint Dempsey, who scored the U.S. goal, learned soccer by kicking the ball with Mexican immigrants in his native Texas. Benny Feilhaber's grandfather was an Austrian Jew who fled to Brazil in 1938. Feilhaber was born in Brazil, and parents moved to the U.S. when he was 6. Jonathan Spector's grandparents were German, which made it easy for him to work in Germany. Oguchi Onyewu's parents are Nigerian and moved to the U.S. to attend Howard University. Hercules Gomez was born in Los Angeles to Mexican-American parents. Stuart Holden's parents are Scottish (moved to Texas to work for Chevron). Carlos Bocanegra has his roots in the Mexican border. Jonathan Borstein's father is Jewish and his mother is Mexican. Ricardo Clark's has Trinidadian ancestry. Edson Buddle has Jamaican ancestry. Francisco Torres is mixed Mexican and American. Jozy Altidore's parents are Haitian. Brad Guzan is of Polish-American ancestry. Jonathan Spector's grandparents were German, which made it easy for his to start his soccer career in Germany. Many of the U.S. national team members play in European or Latin American leagues, where they have actually experienced racism. Two African-American players have been targets of European racism. DeMarcus Beasley had his car blown up in Scotland and Oguchi Onyewu was subjected to racist comments by Belgian players resulting into a law-suit.

I must now say a couple of things about South Carolina. It's not the first state that comes to mind when one thinks of internationalism, but actually this is far from the truth. As we all know, the new South is where America's next multicultural heart is currently beating. Having taught at Clemson from 2003 to 2007, I can also testify to the role that southern universities play in supporting international talent in less celebrated sports (soccer, track and field, etc). Consider the astounding fact that two members of the U.S. national team playing today are Clemson grads. Oguchi Onyewu attended Clemson a year or two before I arrived. He is Clemson's best celebrated players, signed by A.C. Milan last year (although he injured himself thereafter). Stuart Holden attended Clemson University when I was teaching there and I saw him play. Brad Guzan attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Soccer is strong in my new academic home, a small college with a minuscule sports budget (compared to Clemson) but no shortage of international dreams. I am very proud of Franklin & Marshall's Soccer Africa Project. Under the guidance of coach Dan Wagner and Susan Dicklitch (dir. Ware Center for Civic Engagement), F&M has been combating HIV/Aids and poverty in South Africa through the international power of soccer. In 2010, this initiative opened a field house in Khayelitsha, South Africa, which is no small achievement.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Theory and Method in Byzantine Archaeology

Bill Caraher and I are working on a proposal for a collection of essays focusing on exciting theoretical approaches to the field of Byzantine archaeology

Beyond Icons: Theory and Method in Byzantine Archaeology
Ed. William Caraher and Kostis Kourelis

Over the past three decades, archaeologists interested in the Byzantine period have made significant contributions to archaeological methodology and theoretical approaches to the study of the Medieval period in the Eastern Mediterranean. Byantinists represent some of the keenest “early adopters” of new field methods, technologies, and interpretative tools, and have contributed to the overall intellectual development of archaeology as a discipline. At the same time, the interpretation of the material culture of Byzantium has become steadily more engaged with a dynamic range of theoretical approaches. These approaches have sought to understand the Byzantine experience in relation to a set of profound new questions that have emerged at the center of the humanities and the social sciences (anthropology, sociology). Issues of material culture and its relation to identity, gender, power, sexuality, performance, colonialism, Middle-range theory, processualism and postprocessualism have become central to the discipline of Byzantine archaeology.

The prominence of archaeologists within the transdisciplinary space of Byzantine studies has certainly contribued to their ability to react and to contribute to theoretical problems rising across the humanities (art history, philology, anthropology, economic, social, and political history, architecture, etc.). Until recently, however, the contributions of broader theoretical and methodological discourses within Byzantine archaeology has tended to be marginal to the larger discourse of Byzantine studies. In fact, the impact of Byzantine archaeologists has tended to be greater in the fields of Mediterranean archaeology, architectural history, and even critical theory than in the field of Byzantine studies proper. This volume seeks to redress this issue by bringing together a major series of papers focusing on method and theory in the specific context of Byzantine archaeology.

The goal of this collection is to highlight theoretical innovations that have risen from wide variety of perspectives and have never been featured in a collective manner. We hope that this volume will encapsulate a rising engagement with theory among a young generation of scholars. We believe that the discipline of Byzantine archaeology find itself at an interesting cross-road as expressed, for example, by "Byzantine Archaeology in North America: Conversations on Archaeology," held at Dumbarton Oaks on April 9-10, 2010.

We are currently soliciting abstracts for contributions to this volume. Since the volume seeks to foreground the contributions of theory and method to Byzantine archaeology (and vice versa), we encourage papers that directly engage the theoretical and methodological discourse in a transparent and prominent way. We hope that all the papers address some aspect outlined in Matthew Johnson's standard textbook, Archaeological Theory: An Introduction (Chichester, 2010). In fact, we envision titles that feature the theoretical and methodological perspective prominently : e.g. Post-Colonialism and the Byzantine Other or Intensive Surface Survey and Byzantine Settlement.

In an effort to encompass the range of theoretical and methodological contributions present in Byzantine archaeology, we are looking for papers of less than 8,000 words and prefer papers of 5,000 words. Our aim is to have a complete set of titles and 200-word abstracts by September 1, 2010. At this time, we will solicit a publisher. We hope that manuscripts will be completed by February 2011 and the volume will go into production in April 2011.

A number of contributors have already engaged with the production of this volume and have developed ideas on the the following topics. We are very much interested in your contribution for this volume and/or any additional feedback. Please, contact Bill Caraher ( or Kostis Kourelis ( with any comments.


Habitus: Dar Brooks Hedstrom (Wittenberg College)
Hybridity/Post-Colonialism: Bill Caraher (University of North Dakota)
Mediterraneanism: Günder Varinlioğlu (Dumbarton Oaks)
Materiality: Glenn Peers (University of Texas, Austin)
Modernism/Modernity: Kostis Kourelis (Franklin & Marshall College)
Performance/Orality: Amy Papalexandrou (University of Texas)
Space and Place: Ann Marie Yasin (University of Southern California)
Syndicalism: Demetris Athanasoulis (Greek Ministry of Culture)


Digital Future: Sebastian Heath (New York University)
Intensive Survey: David Pettegrew (Messiah College)
Regional Survey: Fotini Kondyli (University of Amsterdam)
Open Area Excavation: Guy Sanders (Corinth Excavations, ASCSA)
Stratigraphic Context: Adam Rabinowitz (University of Texas, Austin)
Remote Sensing: Kostis Kourelis (Franklin & Marshall College)

Monday, June 07, 2010

Stymphalia Environment Museum

Towering over the ancient site of Stymphalia a heroic modernist museum can be seen for miles. It grows out of the rocks, like a Frank Lloyd Wright building but its Brutalist concrete make it distinctively Polytechneio modern. Unfortunately, it has received less attention than the new Acropolis Museum, partially because it's home-grown, and partially because it contains no fetishized antiquities. The building was designed by Greece's most respected architects and teachers, Tassos Papaioannou and Demetris Isaias. It received the Best Building of 2008 prize by the Greek Institute of Architecture and it has been included in the Phaedon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture (2008).

The Environment Museum is an addition to one of the most interesting museological experiments in Greece, sponsored by Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation. The Foundation has also created a Museum of Marble Crafts in Tinos, the Rooftile and Brickworks Museum in Volos, the Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production in Lesbos, the Silk Museum in Soufli and (my absolute favorite museum in all of Greece) the Museum of Water Energy in Dimitsana. The new institution is the first museum devoted to Environmental Consciousness in Greece. It sits over Lake Stymphalis, an ecological zone that has attracted much debate from environmentalists. Although seemingly pristine, the lake had been ravaged by agricultural pesticides calling for action (see Natura 2000 program)

Greece's President Karolos Papoulias inaugurated the Stymphalia Environment Museum this last weekend. The museum has taken a few years to complete. Those of us that have worked with the Canadian excavations in Ancient Stymphalia have been watching the building foundations for about 5 years. The slowness of its construction was interesting in its own right, growing expressively like a modern ruin. For more information about this museum and the Piraeus Bank Cultural Foundation see here).

I am looking forward to visiting the Museum now that it has opened. Unfortunately, Stymphalia is located in the mountains of the Corinthia and (for better or for worse) receives very few visitors. For that reason, people have expressed skepticism over it's success. I am optimistic. After all, remoteness from tourist centers is necessary for the preservation of the environment, the museum's subject. I hope it becomes a destination and brings attention to the Cistercian Abbey of Zaraka, which was a 13th-century ecological experiment. For Conn College's Zaraka Survey see here.

During the last Archaeological Institute of America meetings in Anaheim, I met with Stymphalia Excavations director, Hector Williams. He gave me an update on the preservation state of the site and its environs. One thing that we hope to do is bring a group of students to document the deserted village of Kionia. Unfortunately, we cannot do it this summer but hopefully in 2011. The volume on the Cistercian Abbey of Zaraka edited by Sheila Campbell is under production. One of the things that I need to do this summer is write up my contribution, an essay on the ecology of Frankish settlements and monasteries. Waterworks, mills, canalization and other such features have been noted by the Stymphalia landscape survey undertaken by Ben Gourley.

It is absolutely thrilling that an environmental line of scholarship can now be aligned by a museological experience at Stymphalia. Greece's treasures are located away from the bright lights of tourism.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Benson Memorial: Islamic Philadelphia

Wondering through Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia with Kalliope, I came across this beautiful limestone memorial for the Benson family, which I quickly sketched on the left. It is situated against the slope of the hill facing towards the Schuylkill River with a number of equally beautiful neighbors. The monument is dated to 1868.

I haven't had a chance to research the Benson history, but I found a nice photograph in Bryn Mawr's collection taken by Robert Newell ca. 1870 (see below). The monument contains various cultural inspirations, but it most prominent features three horse-shoe arches inspired by the architecture of the Alhambra. I am reading through Washington Irving's 1832 The Alhambra to fully comprehend the cultural magnetism that Moorish Spain exercised in the antebellum imagination of young America. I have searched through all of Laurel Hill and Woodland cemeteries but have come across no other Islamic-inspired memorial. The Benson monument seems unique.

Additional posts on Islamic Philadelphia:
Rodeph Shalom Synagogue
Gibson House
Horticultural Hall

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Rodeph Shalom: Islamic Philadelphia

A most impressive Islamic-inspired building in Philadelphia was designed by Frank Furness in 1871 for the Rodelph Shalom congregation. Rodeph Shalom is the oldest Ashkenazy Jewish congregation in North America, established in 1795. The structure, located on Broad and Vernon Streets does not survive anymore. It was replaced in 1928 by an equally impressive Islamic/Byzantine Revival building.

Given today's Middle-East conflict, it seems unbelievable that Jewish communities would chose an Islamic architectural style to depict themselves in their diasporic setting. But things were different in the 19th century. The tradition of associating Islamic architecture with Judaism began in Germany in the 1830s. Some of the earliest such monuments include Friedrich von Gärtner Munich synagogue and Gottfried Semper's Dresden Synagogue, both destroyed during the Kristallnacht of 1938. The first Islamic-styled synagogue in the U.S. was the Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati, built in 1865. The architectural flexibility of synagogues is a fascinating topic in its own right. Johanna Schein, one of the students in my Lancaster: Architecture of Faith seminar, studied the reasons why that Shaarai Shomayim congregation presented itself in a Renaissance style in 1896, seeking to assimilate in the Georgian character of old German Lancaster.

The photograph here, shows the 1928 synagogue that survives today designed by Philadelphia firm, Simon and Simon. The current building was restored in 1992 (see beautiful interior photos here). I had the great pleasure of attending Nick and Jill's wedding here a few years ago. The building is a must. It stands only a few blocks north of Frank Furness's best known building, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. During my lecture at Pittsburgh last weekend, I was thrilled to visit the Rodef Shalom Congregation on 5th Avenue designed by Henry Hornbostel in 1908. For more information on all the buildings of Pittsburgh's Rodef Shalom, see here.

Additional posts on Islamic Philadelphia:

Gibson House
Horticultural Hall

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States