With surprise many of us received a statement singed by the staff of Hellenic Observatory at the LSE. From 1996 the Hellenic Observatory has been a hub for research on Contemporary Greece. Funded in part by the Greek State, the institution has over the years received senior and early career Greek academics. It has also, rather problematically, invited senior politicians of one persuasion more than another, to give public talks and, conversely, members of its staff have in many cases worked closely with past Greek governments.
Despite its many public activities this is the first time in recent years – perhaps even the first time in its history – that the staff of the institution, through its staffers, feel the obligation to intervene publicly with a statement ‘on the Situation in Greece’, urging the hundreds, if not thousands of members on its mailing list – amongst them many Greek students – to vote ‘YES’ in the impending referendum.
Some might ask whether it is permissible for an institution whose role is to ‘promote the multidisciplinary study of contemporary Greek politics, economy and society’ to see itself as a propagandist for a political cause. We do not, indeed, believe that research institutions should be isolated from politics. Thankfully, many institutions in the UK have intervened by fostering events aiming to throw light to the profound and devastating humanitarian crisis in Greece over the last six years. Only, now, and while responses can differ, The Hellenic Observatory, with the banks closed and the country blackmailed, decided to take a stance that distorts the very question of the impeding referendum and aids misinformation across a wide range of academics, students and policy makers.
Let us be clear: Sunday’s referendum is not about Greece’s currency. It is not formally stated to be so to start with. For us, at least, its outcome will not jeopardise Greece’s position in the EU. A ‘NO’ vote is not an anti-European vote. We expected that an institution aiming to promote the research and production of knowledge in contemporary Greece would do better than merely reiterate a distortion of the very question set before the Greek people.
Angie Voela, University of East London
Stathis Kouvelakis, King’s College London
Vassilis Fouskas, University of East London
Maria Aristodemou, Birkbeck College, University of London
Ntina Tzouvala, University of Durham
Costas Douzinas, Birkbeck College, University of London
Maria Drakopoulou, University of Kent
Antonis Tzanakopoulos, University of Oxford
Alexander Kazamias, University of Coventry
Elena Loizidou, Birkbeck College, University of London
Julia Chryssostalis, University of Westminster
Thanos Zartaloudis, University of Kent
Vassiliki Kolocotroni, University of Glasgow