Presentation of Prime Ministers in Greece: the Paradox of Power by Petros Haritatos

The 2016 Runciman Award ceremony may have taken place, but that doesn’t mean radio silence from the website! For the many readers who are interested in Dimitris Papadimitriou and Kevin Featherstone’s shortlisted work, Prime Ministers in Greece: the Paradox of Power, here is a blog post (in Greek) by Petros Haritatos about the book. He … Read more

Some words about the winner and runner-up from the Chairman of the judging panel

For those of you who haven’t read the winning entry in this year’s Runciman Award competition, here are some thoughts from Professor Tom Harrison, Chairman of the judging panel, which may inspire you to pick up a copy:

The product of over twenty years of painstaking fieldwork  in Greece, Sharon Gerstel’s Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late Byzantium seeks to reconstruct the lives of the rural poor in Greece from a wide range of sources: from the material remains of settlements, from ethnographic research, from illustrated manuscripts – but especially perhaps from the wall paintings of countless small churches used continuously over the intervening centuries, but many now in a state of disrepair.  Professor Gerstel’s book covers all aspects of rural life: from physical labour to witchcraft or the role of gossip (one of the main sins in representations of the Last Judgement). What distinguishes her book, however, is her attempt – as she puts it in her opening – to view the Greek landscape ‘from the heart’. This is an ambition that is amply fulfilled: every page is imbued with a sense of duty to preserve the memory of the rural life that she describes, and to honour those individuals who guided her in her fieldwork.  (A delightful aspect of her book is the presence of so many people in her photographs.)  Like another Runciman prize winner, Juliet du Boulay, she manages, in essence, to summon up a whole world – real and imaginary – of past experience.  For that extraordinary achievement, the Runciman Award for 2016 is awarded to Professor Sharon Gerstel.
The product of over twenty years of painstaking fieldwork  in Greece, Sharon Gerstel’s Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late Byzantium seeks to reconstruct the lives of the rural poor in Greece from a wide range of sources: from the material remains of settlements, from ethnographic research, from illustrated manuscripts – but especially perhaps from the wall paintings of countless small churches used continuously over the intervening centuries, but many now in a state of disrepair.  Professor Gerstel’s book covers all aspects of rural life: from physical labour to witchcraft or the role of gossip (one of the main sins in representations of the Last Judgement). What distinguishes her book, however, is her attempt – as she puts it in her opening – to view the Greek landscape ‘from the heart’. This is an ambition that is amply fulfilled: every page is imbued with a sense of duty to preserve the memory of the rural life that she describes, and to honour those individuals who guided her in her fieldwork.  (A delightful aspect of her book is the presence of so many people in her photographs.)  Like another Runciman prize winner, Juliet du Boulay, she manages, in essence, to summon up a whole world – real and imaginary – of past experience.  For that extraordinary achievement, the Runciman Award for 2016 is awarded to Professor Sharon Gerstel.

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And the winner is…

Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late ByzantiumSharon Gerstel won the 2016 Runciman Award at a ceremony held at the Hellenic Centre on 14 June, for her book Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late Byzantium, published by Cambridge University Press.

Gerald Cadogan, Chairman of the Anglo-Hellenic League congratulated the winner, Professor Gerstel, and the authors of the four other short-listed books in his address to a large audience of book lovers, philhellenes and members of the League.

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