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The Nikos Kazantzakis Visiting Scholar Program in UC Berkeley

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

The Modern Greek Studies Foundation and the UC Berkeley Modern Greek and Hellenic Studies Program jointly announce the establishment of the Nikos Kazantzakis Visiting Scholar Program. The program is made possible by a $1 million endowment funded by the Modern Greek Studies Foundation based in San Francisco.

Dr. Christine Philiou, President Kanios and Board of Directors of the Modern Greek Studies Foundation

Modern Greek Studies Foundation gives $1 million to fund the Nikos Kazantzakis Visiting Scholar Program at the UC Berkeley Modern Greek and Hellenic Studies Program.

The program which will launch in 2023 will support visiting scholars in the field of Modern Greek Studies with a particular focus on Modern Greek language, literature, film, history and culture at UC Berkeley. Scholars will present an annual Nikos Kazantzakis Lecture as they also conduct seminars, research, and related academic activities during their residency. The Foundation seeks to support the University’s efforts to enhance the endowment to include funding for a full-time professorship or chair in the name of Kazantzakis that will reflect the author’s profound contributions in Modern Greek language and literature.

Professor Christine Philliou, Director of the Modern Greek and Hellenic Studies Program commented, “The endowment and visiting scholar program is proudly named after Nikos Kazantzakis, a giant of modern Greek literature, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature nine times. His well-known novels include Zorba the Greek, Christ Recrucified, and the Last Temptation of Christ, but he also was a prolific writer of memoirs, plays, travel journals, epic poetry and philosophical essays such as The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises. His work encompasses widely diverse aspects of Greek cultural practices and beliefs and contains the entirety of the Greek lexicon, an ark of all the Greek words in existence.”

Niki Stavrou, granddaughter of Eleni Kazantzakis and CEO of The Nikos Kazantzakis Estate, stated that no other university holds a professorship or chair in the name of Kazantzakis, not even in Greece. “This is an historic achievement for Hellenism and modern Greek literature as well as a cultural bridge connecting our two countries, Greece and the United States. To emblazon the Kazantzakis name at one of the world’s great universities is an honor to his legacy and a promise that the profound artistic and spiritual beauty of his work will find new audiences for many generations to come.”

Chris Gus Kanios, President of Modern Greek Studies Foundation, pointed out that the Nikos Kazantzakis Endowment, now funding the Visiting Scholar program at Berkeley, had its roots over forty years ago at San Francisco State University: “The endowment fund was originally created by the vision, commitment and generosity of the late California State Senator Nicholas Petris, Professor Thanasis Maskaleris, (who directed the Center for Modern Greek Studies at SF State) and Mr. Angelo Tsakopoulos. Our Foundation began a search for a new home for the endowment when San Francisco State chose to shutter the Center without ever filling the Kazantzakis Chair position. We are thrilled to forge this new partnership with UC Berkeley and see the dream of a Kazantzakis professorship finally realized and give an opportunity to Hellenophiles everywhere to support this initiative.”

The Modern Greek Studies Foundation was founded in 1981 to support academic programs and library collections in Modern Greek Studies offered at universities and to sponsor a variety of public presentations to showcase the scope, beauty, depth and value of Hellenic culture. Along with academic initiatives, it has sponsored the San Francisco Greek Film Festival, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary in 2023, the longest running Greek film festival in the United States.

The Modern Greek and Hellenic Studies Program, housed with the UC Berkeley Institute of European Studies, builds an intellectual community around shared cultural and creative interests in contemporary Greece and the Greek diaspora around the globe. Supported by the Modern Greek Studies Foundation and in partnership with the Consulate General of Greece in San Francisco, the Program deepens relations between UC Berkeley and Modern Greek initiatives across four key areas: Research, History, and Culture, Diplomacy and Innovation.

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