Department of History and Ethnology

Dear Visitor, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the English version of the website of the Department of History and Ethnology.  The Department of History and Ethnology is the oldest of the three departments that make up the School of Classics and Humanities of the Democritus University of Thrace, the other two being the Department of Greek Language and Literature and the Department of the Languages, Literature and Culture of the Countries of the Black Sea. 
In the rest of our site, my colleagues who have undertaken the work of curating and maintaining our webpage have attempted to give a picture of the history and path of the Department and its present condition.  They also offer a picture of the varied teaching and research work of the Department.  Thus not only can our students get help with their study needs, but it is also open to all to learn of the educational and research work of the Department.  Very frequently various factors mean that the work quietly, methodically and systematically produced in Greek universities is not promoted and displayed.  At the Democritus University of Thrace, in particular, high quality teaching and research work is carried out in a planned, methodical and informed fashion, accompanied by a sense of responsibility.  This is clear from all our activities and from the evaluations that have been conducted.  
The Department of History and Ethnology is located at the downtown campus of the university, in the centre of Komotini, at 1 Panayi Tsaldari St.  Komotini is the chief town of the Prefecture of the Rhodopi, in northeastern Greece, and stands on a coastal plain beneath the rolling Rhodope range, an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is linked by motorway to Thessaloniki, about two and half hours away to the west, and to Istanbul, about three and a half hours away to the east. It is about 50 km away from Xanthi and about the same distance from Alexandroupolis, on the coast, both of which host other departments of the Democritus University. There is an airport at Alexandroupolis, with regular flights to Athens and other regional centres.
Komotini thus looks both south to the Aegean and southeastern Mediterranean and north, into southwestern Europe, a fact that is reflected in the academic orientation of the Department of History and Ethnology. The Department was founded by in 1990 and was given a formidably wide intellectual remit. According to the Presidential Decree that defined its operations, it was to teach and research the ‘progress of peoples through history from the beginning and the factors that influence them’, ‘the ways in which mankind forms groups, particularly those of peoples without writing’, ‘behavior relating to the intellectual, social and moral life of peoples and folk culture’ and to provide its graduates with ‘the necessary theoretical and practical preparation for their academic and professional career and development’.
The Department fulfills this mission with currently 21 teaching and research staff. All of Greek history and many areas of Balkan and other European history is taught by the historians in the Department, whilst the archaeologists and anthropologists specialize mainly in southeastern Europe and Greece itself. The Department also takes extremely seriously its mission to offer its students preparation for their academic and professional career. It has recently redesigned its syllabus with the needs of its students in mind, in order to offer the maximum amount of flexibility, combined with the need for the student to acquire a firm grounding in his or her discipline. It also offers its students the chance to do courses in other faculties of the university, such as the Department of Greek Language and Literature.
It also offers numerous study trips to destinations in Thrace and Macedonia and beyond the borders of Greece. Recent study trips have included visits to Istanbul, Edirne and ancient Pergamon. It also has a vigorous programme of internships that involve observation and teaching in schools and work in archives, museums and participation in archaeological excavations throughout northern Greece and as far as Athens and the Peloponnese, in southern Greece.  In order to offer our students the fullest possible training, we have an internship programme and have agreements with, among others, the universities of Groningen, of Florence, of Sassari, La Sapienza, Roma Tre, of Lublijana, of Plovdiv, of Sofia, of Erfurt and the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.   (For details of the Democritus University’s participation in the Erasmus programme, click here).
Apart from training its students, however, the Department sees itself, and the Democritus University in general, as playing a vital part of the intellectual life of the region. And so, as part of its educational and research activity, the Department frequently organizes lectures, one-day and two-day conferences and congresses, both Greek and international in range, in order both to showcase the work of the Department and to educate our students more deeply and to promote the development of knowledge.  Over the past three years, for example, it has hosted conferences on subjects as diverse as Population Movement in Greece during the 1940s, Ancient Greek Technology, Social and Cultural Aspects of Bektashism-Alevism in the Contemporary Islamic World and Nazism, Neo-Nazism and History Education, The Pomacs of Thrace, Antiquities Smuggling: History and Cultural, Political and Legal Handling of the Problem, ‘When the periphery interprets the centre’: Greek Historians of European History, Identities and Otherness at Times of Crisis, Greece and Bulgaria: Parallels and Intersections in History and Culture, all of which drew large audiences.
The Department has about 1000 students, with an annual intake of about 200, some of whom live in accommodation on the out-of-town campus.
Our Department, in response to today’s challenges, has adapted its structures, aims, strategy and its educational offerings and has done so very successfully, as the external evaluation report shows. Our current, updated curriculum, which can be found here, was designed by the Curriculum Committee and was approved by the Department General Assembly in April, 2011. 
Since then, with the occasional necessary minor change, this has been our new curriculum, which all new students follow.  In recent years, a computing laboratory was founded and now functions in the Department.  This, in conjunction with our Departmental library, which is kept up-to-date and contains many volumes and series of periodicals, contributes to an ever more complete training of our students. 
Furthermore, alongside the Laboratory of Physical Anthropology and the Laboratory of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies, which were established along with the Department, the Laboratory of Folklore and Social Anthropology, the Laboratory of Modern and Contemporary History and Historical Research and the Laboratory for Technology, Research and Educational Applications were recently founded, which together make up the basic research infrastructure of the Department.  The Department also has a Master’s programme entitled ‘Studies in Local History: Interdisciplinary Approaches’, information on the organization, structure and functioning of which will be found here.  The Department also has programme of doctoral and post-doctoral studies. 
I would like to assure students of the Department, their parents and guardians, who make such great sacrifices to support their studies, in view of the unprecedented crisis that has in recent years plagued Greek society, that both the teaching and research staff and the rest of the special and administrative staff who man the Department make every effort to fulfil the expectations of students.  This is so both in terms of teaching and study and in terms of research and its dissemination, something of vital importance today.  It hardly needs saying that to reach these goals requires understanding, co-operation and good will on the part of everybody. 

With such thoughts, I welcome you to our site, stressing the fact here that we are delighted to receive and discuss any constructive suggestions that you may care to send us, with a view to improving our services and to adding to the information presented here. 

Komotini, 15 February 2019
Department Chairperson
Professor M. G. Varvounis

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Department of History and Ethnology

Panagi Tsaldari 1
Komotini, 69100

Τel: 25310-39462
Fax: 25310-39483

Email: secr@he.duth.gr

 

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