Research and Publications
The Greek Fire: American-Ottoman Relations and Democratic Fervor in the Age of Revolutions, Cornell University Press, 2020
The Greek Fire examines the United States' early global influence as the fledgling nation that inserted itself in conflicts that were oceans away. The book focuses on the American fascination with and involvement in the Greek Revolution in the 1820s and 1830s. That nationalist movement incited an American philhellenic movement that pushed the borders of US interests into the eastern Mediterranean and infused a global perspective into domestic conversations concerning freedom and reform.
Perceiving strong cultural, intellectual, and racial ties with Greece, American men and women identified Greece as the seedbed of American democracy and a crucial source of American values. From Maryland to Missouri and Maine to Georgia, grassroots organizations sent men, money, and supplies to aid the Greeks. Defending the modern Greeks from Turkish slavery and oppression was an issue on which northerners and southerners agreed. Philhellenes, often led by women, joined efforts with benevolence and missionary groups and together they promoted humanitarianism, education reform, and evangelism. Public pressure on the US Congress, however, did not result in intervention on behalf of the Greeks. Commercial interests convinced US officials, who wished to cultivate commercial ties with the Ottomans, to remain out of the conflict.
The Greek Fire analyzes the role of Americans in the Greek Revolution and the aftermath of US involvement. In doing so, Santelli revises understandings of US involvement in foreign affairs, and she shows how diplomacy developed at the same time as Americans were learning what it meant to be a country, and what that country stood for.
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Praise for The Greek Fire
The Greek Fire is an excellent example of the growing 'global' turn in history of the early republic, and also makes an important contribution to our understanding of the rise of international humanitarianism. Clearly written and well-researched, it deserves a wide readership.
- W. Caleb McDaniel, Rice University, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Sweet Taste of Liberty
The Greek Fire offers a fascinating look at American philhellenism. As with the French, Haitian, and Latin American revolutions, the Greek Revolution became an occasion for Americans to reinterpret the legacy of their own revolution. Santelli reveals how the Greek Revolution prompted all Americans to think anew about what it meant to be an American on the world stage and to reexamine domestic political issues including slavery and women's rights from a new angle.
- Emily Conroy-Krutz, Michigan State University, Author of Christian Imperialism
Research and Writing
Current Research: Life and Times of Laskarina Bouboulina: Critical Contexts of a Revolutionary Heroine
I am working on a collaborative project where my contribution will focus on early American interest in Laskarina Bouboulina, a Greek heroine and revolutionary. My work will examine how Americans struggled with their admiration for Bouboulina’s heroism and tried to reconcile her with their nineteenth-century gender norms.
This article was published as part of an online and traveling exhibit titled, The Greek Revolution Through American Eyes. This exhibit made its debuted in 2021 to help commemorate the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution.
“Depart from that Retired Circle:” Women’s Support of the Greek War for Independence and Antebellum Reform. Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 15 (2017), No. 1, 194-223.
This article explores the role women in early played in mobilizing humanitarian relief for Greek civilians during the Greek Revolution. I argue that involvement in the Greek cause provided new avenues for female-led reform movements.