The CIVIL Project

TitleCensorship in Visual Arts and Film: The Greek experience from the post-war years to the present
FundingHellenic Foundation for Research & Innovation (H.F.R.I.). H.F.R.I. project to support Postdoctoral Researchers (2018-2021)
Budget240,000 €
Host institutionPanteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Department of Political Science and History
Research teamStratis Bournazos, Maria Chalkou, Dimitris Christopoulos, Eleni Kouki, Penelope Petsini, Michalis Stefanidakis, Christos Triantafyllou, Valia Tsirigoti
Project leaderPenelope Petsini

Project Summary

The CIVIL project aims to uncover, document and analyse censorship in film and visual arts in Greece from the post-war years to the present. The focus on film (both fiction and documentary) and visual arts (painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video-art and comics) covers artistic and cultural fields that, on the one hand, remain under-researched in relation to censorship and, on the other, combine diverse characteristics and attitudes. Film is an extremely popular and influential medium that addresses the general public, while visual arts (with the exception of comics) are considered to be “elitist” forms that target more sophisticated and significantly smaller audiences. Greek film has for long been subjected to state and institutional control, from production to exhibition, hence there is plenty of evidence that it has suffered from extensive censorship. By contrast, Greek visual arts have lacked similar institutional frameworks and censorship cases related to them appear to be rather sporadic, although they have attracted significant public attention (e.g. “Outlook” exhibition [2004]).

The time frame of the research reflects on the major transformations of Greece’s contemporary culture and political system bringing together three distinct historical periods: the so-called “Cachectic Democracy” of the post-war years (1944-67), the dictatorship of the Colonels (1967-74) and the post-dictatorship era from Metapolitefsi to the present. This encourages comparative perspectives that allow us to trace continuities, discontinuities and transitions in acts and targets of censorship as well as in censorial practices, and identify changes in the concept of “censorship” itself and in its public reception.

The main objectives of the CIVIL project are the following:

  • To produce a comprehensive, fully documented and theoretically informed history of censorship in film and visual arts in Greece, from the post war years to the present.
  • To detect, document and record all acts of censorship in the fields of film and visual arts.
  • To trace all possible forms of direct and indirect censorship, either official or unofficial, including the practice of self-censorship.
  • To identify stakeholders and mechanisms of power behind certain acts of censorship and censorial practices (e.g. the State, the Church, funding institutions, political parties, etc).
  • To explore in depth the structure and the workings of the state censorship apparatus.
  • To examine the motivations for censorship, be it political, national, social, moral, religious or aesthetic.
  • To trace the transformations of censorship in Greece across different regimes and periods of time by establishing links, ruptures and transitions in focus and practice.
  • To explore the development through time of the official, public and intellectual discourse (both defensive and condemning) surrounding the notions of censorship and free expression. This involves the examination of the changes in the public reception of the notion of “censorship” itself.
  • To revisit and re-contextualize the concept of censorship in light of new scholarship.