Population exchange and local history

Sociometry as a means of asking for the participants’ opinions, theatre methods to illustrate experiences and test alternatives, exchange through pictures – often it is simple methods that enable an intensive exchange on a topic. This was also the case during the Action Synergy workshop in Heraklion on 1st November 2022.

Alex Diamantis Balaskas first introduced the project and the learning platform to the participants. He went into more detail about the course of population exchange between Greeks in Asia Minor and Turks in Greece, which was subsequently legitimised by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. This had been preceded by the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-22. The population exchange was momentous; it also changed the population structure of Crete. The migrants were often exposed to discrimination, poverty and unemployment.

The workshop referred to the lives of people in Fortetsa (Heraklion) who had to leave their homes and start anew in a foreign land. Even if this foreign country was seen as “their nation”. The population exchange thus became an example of how political decisions can have a lasting impact on people’s lives – and how nation states were created politically in the first place.