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Alexandre Farnoux

The French School of Athens has finally decided to launch a journal to publish the results of its research on modern and contemporary Greece. Although this endeavour represents a significant shift, it is not exactly unexpected: from 1846 many members expressed their interest in the recent history of this country. This supports the scientific vocation of the School as a research institute for the history of Hellenism, up to today, and its relationship with the Balkan world and the Eastern Mediterranean. Open to all disciplines within the humanities and social sciences, the journal publishes the analysis of primary data gathered in the field or from archives, and syntheses that shed light on the past and present of contemporary Greece. Analyses are carried out at a local, regional, national, imperial or global level, according to the selected period and theme.

In 1925 Charles Picard had already predicted this outcome when he wrote in his research report:

The director has resumed the preparation of a personal project concerning Byzantine and neo-Greek studies, which it would be regrettable to exclude from the general program of the French School of Athens. In Greece, under the auspices of the Higher Institute of French Studies, a new centre for scientific studies, archaeological and philological, is being established, with special reference to Byzantine and modern Greece. The publication of Annales, at undetermined intervals, work by specialists brought together by the School, has already been planned and organized.

In calling for a commitment from the School in this area, Charles Picard wanted to recall the initial vocation of the institution, which was the study of Hellenism and its transformations. He also intended to offer an institutional outlet for the personal interests that some members, such as Émile Burnouf, Edmond About, Léon Thénon, Gaston Deschamps, Victor Berard, Georges Perrot or Louis Roussel, could bring to the country in which they lived, and in which they could publish articles and essays outside the School. Focused on the Eastern Front like so many other members, Charles Picard understood the importance of good knowledge of the post-Byzantine history of Greece. His participation in field investigations in Eastern Thrace had shown him the importance of ethnographic research on the cults, customs or material culture of this very recent past in the process of upheaval. Returning to France in 1925, Charles Picard could not carry out his project. Before him, Albert Dumont (director 1875-1878) had already introduced studies on modern Greece into the lecture programme of the new Institut de Correspondance hellénique (1877) and Théophile Homolle (director 1890-1903) continued in this direction. But then came the era of "great excavations" and their scientific and diplomatic impact.

Today the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, moderne et contemporain comes at the end of an institutional process that begun in 1985 with the official reintroduction of the scientific field of modern Greece into the research programme of the School. It continued in 1991 with the creation of a modernist member post at the School and a modern studies officer. From 1996 to 2001 the Bulletin des études grecques modernes et contemporaines was published at the School. A last step was marked by the statutory decree of [February 10] 2011 which confirms the existence of a modern and contemporary section with its own director of studies and an increased number of members. At the same time, a scientific programme specifically for this section was developed from 2011 and which, like the ancient and Byzantine section, favours the production of primary data from field surveys, excavations, surveys or archive studies, as well as the development of tools to manage them. To accompany this development and publish the results that came out of it, a journal was necessary. In an era of digital humanities, it seems right to publish it online.

On the eve of his departure to Greece, Fustel de Coulanges wrote to a friend: "I am not running in search of a forgotten step of the Acropolis, I am going to observe the men, those of old and those of today". It is the world of these "men of today" that BCH moderne et contemporain intends to explore.

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