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13-16 October, 2022 · York University, Toronto, Canada

The Edmund Keeley Book Prize for 2022

The 2022 Edmund Keeley Book Prize is awarded to Eleni Kefala’s The Conquered: Byzantium and America on the Cusp of Modernity (Dumbarton Oaks, 2020). The Conquered is a work of truly original scholarship, bold in the experiment it ventures – an extended comparison between Byzantine Greek and indigenous American culture and society – and deeply grounded in literary, linguistic, and historical research. The comparison proceeds by close readings of three key texts: poetic laments addressing the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and Tenochtitlan in 1521, which have found their way into the modern Greek canon but not – for reasons explored by Kefala – the Mexican. The book begins and ends in the present with a problem: the enigmatic inheritance of collective memory and cultural trauma that continues to shape Greek identity today as well as our study of Greek history and culture. Dwelling on the “cusp” of modernity, Kefala argues that we understand the aftermath of conquest as a foundationally modern experience, inaugurating the formation of identity in the radical transformation of social worlds, whether or not that rupture was experienced as traumatic. Working from her own translations of Greek, Nahuatl, and Spanish texts, Kefala closely examines the literary devices and cultural mechanisms by which the memory of conquest was transmitted in these two contexts, including songs, paintings, folklore, funerary practices, and theologies of time. The conquest of the Mexica, developed here as a rich socio-political history in its own right, also offers a counterpoint to the conquest of Byzantium, showing a process of integration and recontextualization rather than (primarily) of reckoning with trauma. Through this comparison, Kefala shows how the “premodern” and the “nonmodern,” figured respectively as Byzantium and pre-Columbian America in Enlightenment and colonial representations, played a crucial role in the constitution of modernity itself. A richly illustrated, gorgeously written and gripping read, this book reimagines the field of Modern Greek Studies in a fresh and persuasive way.

The Edmund Keeley Prize Committee also identified three books as especially worthy of recognition. It is with pleasure that the following books and their authors are formally recognized as having been shortlisted for the 2022 Edmund Keeley Book Prize:


Dimitris Papanikolaou, Greek Weird Wave: Cinema of Biopolitics (Edinburgh, 2021)

Dimitris Tziovas, Greece from Junta to Crisis: Modernization, Transition, and Diversity (I.B. Tauris, 2021)

Gonda Van Steen, Adoption, Memory, and Cold War Greece: Kid Pro Quo? (Michigan, 2019)


The Edmund Keeley Book Prize is awarded to an academic book dealing with modern Greece or a Hellenic theme published originally in the English language. Through this award, the Modern Greek Studies Association celebrates the contributions of Professor Edmund Keeley, who served as president of our association, authored or translated over 30 books, taught Hellenic Studies for 40 years, and was a mentor and a source of inspiration for generations of scholars. Regrettably, Professor Keeley passed away this year.

Professor Kefala will be presented with the Edmund Keeley Book Prize at the award ceremony of the 27th MGSA Symposium on Thursday, October 13th, at York University, in Toronto, Canada. The committee takes this opportunity to congratulate her and extend its gratitude to all those who submitted their excellent work. We reviewed 15 superb books and reached our decision after careful consideration and much discussion. 


The 2022 Keeley Book Prize Committee:


Keeley Book Prize Iatrides Dissertation Constantine Translation Edited Volume Papacosmos Essay