Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins, an assistant professor of anthropology at Bard College, is the author of Waste Siege: The Life of Infrastructure in Palestine (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2020), which won the Albert Hourani Book Award from the Middle East Studies Association in 2020. Tessa Farmer talked to her about her research, the book and her next project.
The photographs are compelling: Greek Orthodox Christians are gathered in small groups on the Aegean coast of what is now Turkey, wearing too much clothing for the hot day, whatever possessions they could carry sitting at their feet, their faces drawn with worry as they stare at the water, awaiting the ships that would take them to Greece. They were being expelled from Anatolia, where their ancestors had lived and died and worked and prayed for so many centuries that most claimed no other homeland. These Christians followed a patriarch who had resided in Constantinople/Istanbul since the year 330 and whose massive cathedral, Hagia Sophia, had already become a major tourism site.