The Athens Polytechnic Uprising: Myth and Reality
Marianthi Kotea

The following text investigates how specific urban places, such as buildings, squares or streets, become symbols of contestation of established order. It uses as study case the Athens Polytechnic uprising and focuses on how and why the main building of the National Technical University of Athens (Polytechnio) and the surrounding area at Exarchia became symbol of resistance against tyranny and foreign dependence. The investigation is concentrated on three topics: a) the meaning of the ritual which has been established by the celebration of the event over the years, b) the circumstances which allowed the historical event to become not only symbol of the struggle against dictatorship but also emblem for anarchism and for terrorism, c) the delayed recognition of the Greek people’s Resistance against dictatorship by the Parliament. The outcome of the investigation is that the polytechnic uprising was established as symbol of resistance by the entire Greek Left, though socialists, communists and anarchists don’t share the same visions. Eventually the event was established as a national holiday by the Greek Parliament after a 26-year-delay, that is in 1999 26th August. At that time the left ideology was a spent force for the majority of Youth, which didn’t threaten the economic and social status quo any more. Nowadays unfortunately the visions of the polytechnic uprising for freedom, democracy, national independence, progress and social justice seem to be the solution of current crisis…

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