Travelling Memories: the Boissonnas photo-albums Salonique et ses basiliques (1913) and Smyrne (1919)
Two photograph albums by the Swiss photographer Frédéric Boissonnas and his son Edmond-Edouard, Salonique et ses basiliques (1913) and Smyrne (1919), capture Salonica (Thessalonika) and Smyrna (Izmir) at crucial turning points in their histories before a chain of events ignited Greek and Turkish nationalism leading to their near destruction. While maintaining an awareness of the ‘locatedness of memory’ within a national context (Radstone), the albums, with their clear focus on Greek-Christian national identity and heritage, arguably function as carefully designed propaganda tools, the aim of which was to create a memory that would travel transculturally (Erll) around the world gaining support for Greece which hoped to unite all the Ottoman lands with Greek populations into a single Greek state, whose capital would be Constantinople. Greece’s ‘Great Idea’ may have died in the flames of Smyrna, but it lives on in the Boissonnas albums and their online presence.
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