The Molyvos Connections Project: A Social Geography of the North Aegean – A Gefyra Initiative

This year, under the auspices of Gefyra, we are launching the Molyvos Connections Project: A Social Geography of the North Aegean. Thus, in the summer of 2024, a team of faculty, researchers, and students – both undergraduate and graduate – from Canada the US, Turkey, and Greece will travel to the village of Molyvos on the Island of Lesvos to embark on Gefyra’s second Greece-based Digital Humanities project. We will be joined there by the New Media Lab’s videographer/photographer and work in the village for a period of 14 days. Our work will be buttressed by the technical expertise and support of the SNF New Media Lab at SFU and the added support from an SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Kickstarter Grant awarded to the project lead, Dr Dimitris Krallis.

Exploring Molyvos: A Gateway to Aegean Crossroads

Molyvos (ancient Methymna, Ottoman Molova) stands across the Turkish shores, offering vistas on the Aegean to the West and its Asia Minor hinterland to the North and Northeast. Molyvos inherited the ancient and medieval town’s geopolitical and ecclesiastical importance (it remained home to a bishop up to the late 20th c.) to become under the Ottomans the centre for the homonymous administrative district (kaza). The project will study Molyvos and the northern part of Lesvos as a gateway into the world that used to thrive on the margins of the Aegean, a world which existed in close interaction to the Turkish shores visible from Molyvos but also with wider geographies that extended from Odessa to Khartum and from Athens to Cappadocia, travelled by Greek and Ottoman subjects with deep roots on the island.

Bridging Universities and Locals for Collaborative Learning and Archival Documentation

By embarking on this project, we seek to build links between our universities and the local community. We thus embed ourselves into the local community to create opportunities for learning in collaboration with it. Building on the Gefyra’s Geraki experience from 2022-23 and on years of relationships already established in Lesvos, we will mobilize a team of students and academics from multiple countries on a process of storytelling by way of writing, video, photography, and digital media.

We envisage a series of activities, while in situ. Those will include interviews with a. a local a historian on archival culture and local history, b. farmers on Olive Oil cultivation and production, c. a ceramist on pottery, d. a local painter, e. a botanist, and many others. To enhance the interview materials and in order to tell our digital stories more effectively we will be photographing and 3D-scanning a number of buildings, including: the Athens School of Fine Arts and Yiannakos houses, the local Ottoman Baths in Molyvos, the hot springs at Eftalou and the Agios Panteleimon Church in Molyvos. We will also photograph the 20 Ottoman Fountains of the village, the Ligona watermills, and a series of local mansions to which we have gained access. Finally, we are finalizing arrangements for the photographic scan of local family document collections as sources for social, economic, and cultural history. Those collections will be made available to public for research in years to come, upon processing and proper tagging. Those local archival materials will be paired with translated versions of relevant Ottoman documents from the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul.

Related content

Explore our project on weaving in Geraki, Laconia by clicking here.

Learn more about the Gefyra initiative here.