Eleni Bastéa was born and grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece. She holds a BA in art history from Bryn Mawr College, and a Master’s of Architecture and a Ph.D. in architectural history from the University of California at Berkeley. The recipient of several grants and awards, she lectures internationally on memory and architecture, cities and literature, Greece & Turkey.
Oxford, 2015 Photo: M. Forte
Bastéa is the author of The Creation of Modern Athens: Planning the Myth (Cambridge University Press, 2000), also published in Greek (author's translation): Αthens 1834-1896: Neoclassical City planning and Greek National Consciousness (Libro, 2008). She is the editor and a contributing author of the anthology Memory and Architecture (University of New Mexico Press, 2004). Her short stories “Kariokes from Thessaloniki” and “The High Heels,” were included, respectively, i20Thessaloniki 2012. Short-story contest [in Greek], (Ianos, 2011) and the Greek Reader (Dartmouth College, 2012). Her first book of poetry, Venice without Gondolas, was published by Finishing Line Press, 2013.
She has appeared in the English-language documentaries Smyrna: The destruction of a cosmopolitan city, 1900-1922 and From Both Sides of the Aegean, (both directed by Maria Iliou, Proteus production, 2012). Bastéa drew from her own archival research on Smyrna/Izmir and Cappadocia, as well as family stories and oral-history interviews she conducted over the years.
Bastéa teaches general courses on the history of architecture, specializing on 19th and 20th century architecture and urbanism, memory and architecture, cities and literature, and contemporary indigenous architecture (co-taught with Professor Ted Jojola). Her 2010 course, "Greece and Turkey, 1922-Present: From Conflict to Rapprochement," was supported by grants from the Colorado European Union Center of Excellence and the Modern Greek Studies Association.
At the University of New Mexico, where she has taught since 2001, she is Regents' Professor of Architecture and director of the International Studies Institute. As ISI director, she co-organized and hosted the first ISI International Conference, “Cultures of Exile: Conversations on Language and the Arts,” Oct. 23-25, 2013.
A. Geographies of Loss
As I examine the connections among memory, history, and the arts, I have come to believe that it is not actually memory itself but the memory of loss that defines individuals and communities, shaping our sense of the past and vision of the future. How does the memory of loss, experienced personally and through family and community narratives, shape our individual, social and national consciousness? How do we commemorate the loss of home and how does that memory change over time? Here, I am examining the notion of “home” across scales—from the dwelling to the neighborhood to the hometown and the nation. I am not claiming that the effect of the loss of home is identical to the effect of the loss of country, or that its influence on an individual’s identity is mirrored at the national scale. What I am investigating, rather, is the possibility of overarching patterns and parallels, as well as distinct differences and contrasts that connect the various scales of loss and the effects of that loss. And while I acknowledge the deep cost of loss and relocation, I am interested in studying their contributions to the culture of the host country. I plan to concentrate primarily on cases of historic discontinuities: loss of home due to exile or migration, loss of country due to military defeat, loss of empire. Starting with the migrations in the Balkans that resulted from the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), I examine the memory of loss and dislocation within a larger comparative context. I propose that the concept of loss and the legacy of loss I believe, constitute key organizing principles in how we write history.
B. Thessaloniki: Topographies of History, Memory, and Desire
Using Thessaloniki as the starting point and testing ground, and bringing together current research on memory, urban history, and literature, I examine the history of the city through both architectural and literary evidence.I am interested in the multiple histories of Thessaloniki and the multiple stories that its residents have recorded through buildings and literature.
Three major forces mark the development of Thessaloniki since its incorporation in the Greek state in 1912:
1. The project of Hellenism—becoming Greek—and the existing and often opposing forces of the city’s Ottoman and Jewish identities.
2. The project of becoming European and the opposing forces to it, as new economic and political migrants from the former Eastern bloc and the Middle East establish themselves in the city.
3. The project of memory and the efforts to commemorate the city’s Ottoman and Jewish history, creating new ties with Turkey and Israel, and the resistance to these initiatives.
For each of these parts, I focus on specific architectural and urban sites that tell the larger story of the theme by grounding it in the physical environment. I believe that this kaleidoscopic portrait of a city can also serve as a model for understanding other cities with long and layered histories.
As the director of the International Studies Institute at the University of New Mexico since 2013, I am engaged in extensive interdisciplinary collaboration with colleagues within and beyond UNM. In the last three years, I co-organized an interdisciplinary and international conference titled “Cultures of Exile: Conversations on Language and the Arts” (October 2013), and have also organized two Fall Semester lecture series on current topics, bringing 12-14 speakers from the US and abroad. “Modern Societies in Crisis: Global Challenges and Solutions (October 2014) and “Peace: From Conflict to Reconciliation” (October & November 2015). http://isi.unm.edu/ The research and engagement that this position entails has been informing and expanding my own research in both measurable and immeasurable ways.
Eleni Bastéa, Venice without Gondolas, poems. Photography by Mark Forte and Eleni Bastéa (Georgetown, KY: Finishing Line Press, 2013).
Ελενη Μπαστεα, Αθηνα 1834-1896, Νεοκλασικη πολεοδομια και ελληνικη εθνικη συνειδηση (Athens: Libro, 2008). Kathimerini (newspaper) book review online or pdf
Eleni Bastéa, The Creation of Modern Athens: Planning the Myth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Co-winner of the John D. Criticos Prize and finalist for the Runciman Award.
“Athens, 1890–1940: Transitory Modernism and National Realities,” in Races to Modernity. The East European Metropolis 1890-1940, Jan C. Behrends and Martin Kohlrausch, editors (Central European University Press: Budapest and New York, 2014); 127 – 152. Read chapter as pdf.
“And perhaps our research leads us back to a world we lost,” in Constructing a Community of Thought: Letters on the Scholarship, Teaching and Mentoring of Vera John-Steiner, Peter Lake and Cathrene Connery, editors (New York: Peter Lang, 2013); 122 – 125. Read chapter as pdf.
“Modernization and its discontents in post-1950s Thessaloniki: Urban Change and Urban Narratives,” Eleni Bastéa and Vilma Hastaoglou, in Landscapes of Development: The impact of Modernization Discourses on the Physical Environment of the Eastern Mediterranean, Panayiota Pyla, editor (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 2013): 90--117. Read chapter as pdf.
“Athens,”Capital cities in the Aftermath of the Empires: Planning in Central and Southeastern Europe, Emily Gunzburger Makaš and Tanja Damljanović Conley, editors (Routledge: London & New York, 2010): 29-44. Read chapter as pdf.
“Atina. Sokaga Imgeler Oymak” [Athens. Etching Images on the Street: Planning and National Aspirations], in Sehirler ve Sokaklar, Istanbul, 2007; 35-53. The book, published in Turkish, includes selected essays from Streets: Critical Perspectives on Public Space, 1994 (see below). Read chapter as pdf.
“Storied Cities: Literary Memories of Thessaloniki and Istanbul,” in Eleni Bastéa, ed. Memory and Architecture, pp. 191-210. Read chapter as pdf.
“Dimitris Pikionis and Sedad Eldem: Parallel Reflections of Vernacular and National Architecture,” in The Usable Past: Greek Metahistories, Keith Brown and Yannis Hamilakis, editors (Lanham, MD. and Oxford, UK: Lexington Books, 2003): 147-169. Read chapter as pdf.
“Regularization and Resistance: Urban Transformation in Late – nineteenth-century Greece,” in Greek Society in the Making, 1863 – 1913: Realities, Symbols, and Visions, Philip Carabott, editor, (Aldershot, UK: Variorum, 1997); 209 – 30. Read chapter as pdf
“Forging a National Image: Building Modern Athens,” in Constructed Meaning: Form and Process in Greek Architecture, Eleftherios Pavlides and Susan Sutton, editors, (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1995). Also included in Modern Greek Studies Yearbook 10/11 (1994 – 95): 297 – 317. Read chapter as pdf.
“Athens. Etching Images on the Street: Planning and National Aspirations,” in Streets: Critical Perspectives on Public Space, Zeynep Çelik, Diane Favro, and Richard Ingersoll, editors, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994); 111 – 24. Read chapter as pdf.
“Nineteenth-century Travellers in the Greek Lands: Politics, Prejudice, and Poetry in Arcadia.” Dialogos. Hellenic Studies Review, U.K., no. 4 (1997); 47 – 69. Read as pdf.
“Professional Sabbatical.” The Journal of Architectural and Planning Research 8: Special Issue (1991): 42 – 5. Winner of the Walter Wagner Education Forum, 1991. Read as pdf.
“The Sweet Deceit of Tradition: National Ideology and Greek Architecture.” Twenty One / Art and Culture 1, no. 2 (Spring 1990): 84 – 101. Read as pdf.
“Modern American Academia.” Bulletin of the Organization of Women Architects. 15, no. 1 (January – February 1988): 3 – 4. Read as pdf.
“Our City: Salonica.” Places 1, no. 3 (Spring 1984): 26 – 32. Read as pdf.
“Venice without gondolas,” poem and photography by Eleni Bastéa, .Cent Magazine, UK, Spring 2009: pp. 86-87. Read as pdf
“Looking at Frank Gehry Upside-Down,” .Cent Magazine, UK, Spring/Summer 2008; pp. 66-69. Essay by Eleni Bastéa. Photography by Eleni Bastéa and Mark Forte. Read as pdf.
“Madeleines and Hummus, Antique Armchairs and Cellphones,” Ambidextrous, Issue 7, Summer 2007, pp. 40-42. Ambidextrous is published in association with the Stanford d.school. Read as pdf.
“A Place of our own”. Eleni Bastéa with Terron Cox, Paul Gibson, Caroline Itoi, Louvenia Magee, and Jode Nyboer .Cent Magazine, UK, Spring/Summer 2007; pp. 30-34. Read as pdf.
“Culture: Shelf Life, Interview with Eleni Bastéa,” Albuquerque, The Magazine, March 2006, p. 114. Read as pdf.
“The Memory of Buildings,” .Cent Magazine, UK, Spring 2006, Issue 6, pp. 39-42. Read as pdf.
"Thessaloniki through the eyes of Eleni Bastéa," Greece In America, 2014 Embassy of Greece
“The High Heels,” short story [in Greek], Greek Reader, Dartmouth College, 2012. Winner of the 2006 Navarino Foundation Prize. Anatolia College Alumnus, Spring 2007, pp. 53-55; Greek Reader, Dartmouth College, edited by Irene Kacandes, 2012. Read as pdf.
“Kariokes from Thessaloniki” short story [in Greek], Thessaloniki 2012. Short-story contest (Thessaloniki: Ianos, 2011): 130—136. Read the publisehd story in Greek as pdf and in an English translation by the author, aslo as pdf.
Smyrna: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City (2012). Dir.: Maria Iliou. Reviews in the dailies Kathimerini and To Vima (in Greek). Gala at the NYC Greek Festival, Opening night, Oct. 11, 2012 (brief interview with Bastéa, minutes 13:36-14:34)
Expulsion and Exchange of populations: Turkey -- Greece: 1922-1924, (2012). Dir.: Maria Iliou
In collaborating with the director both as a historical consultant and an interviewee, Bastéa drew from her own on-going archival research on Smyrna (present-day Izmir, in Turkey), as well as family stories and oral-history interviews she conducted over the years.
The Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens, "The contemporary cityscape and antiquities; Cycle C | History through the lens of the present | Remembrance and Pathos" Lecture by Eleni Bastéa (in Greek; 8 min.) January 2011
ArchiTeam Point of View, Eleni Bastéa on Architecture and Theory, Oct. 10, 2012
ArchiTeam Point of View, Eleni Bastéa on Architecture and Travel, August 1, 2012
KUNM-Public Radio, “University Showcase,” 30 minutes (4 February 2005) Listen online (12MB, mp3 format).
KUNM-Public Radio, “Women’s Focus,” 60 minutes (8 October 2005).
- World Architecture I & II (2 semesters)
- Modern Architecture
- Contemporary Architecture
- Memory and Architecture
- European Capitals in the 19th Century
- Architectural Journeys
- Contemporary Indigenous Architecture
- Greece and Turkey, 1922-Present: From Conflict to Rapprochement
- Cities and Literature
- Cities and Exile
Professor, Dept. of Art and Art History, UNM
Affiliate faculty, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Arizona
Past Executive Board Member, Modern Greek Studies Association
Contributing architecture editor & creative associate, .Cent Magazine (UK)
Eleni Bastéa, Ph.D.
School of Architecture & Planning
2401 Central Ave NE
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
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