“Borders are important,” ICWA Fellow Steven Tagle said during his fellowship report at New York’s Lotos Club on May 18. They separate “but at the same time invite you to cross.”

He was quoting Angela Giannakidou, president of the Ethnological Museum of Thrace in northeastern Greece, with whom he made many trips to remote villages in the Evros region during his fellowship examining the country’s history, culture and global role from islands and in small towns along its periphery.


“The border creates identity,” Giannakidou told him. “If you don’t know the other, you can’t know yourself.”

It was a poignant coda for a spectacular fellowship based in Evros, the western island of Chios and southern Crete. Supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Steven has explored the significance of those border zones as war broke out in Ukraine, Europe and the Balkans have rushed to reduce dependence on Russia, and Greece assumed greater leadership in the region and the transatlantic alliance.

After discussing his observations, Steven joined an expert panel with Katerina Sokou, (Washington, DC correspondent, Kathimerini), Gregory Maniatis (Director, Office of the Vice President for Global Programs, Open Society Foundations), moderated by ICWA Board Chair Paul Rahe (Professor, Hillsdale College, former ICWA fellow).


Steven Tagle has spent almost two years as the Institute of Current World Affairs Stavros Niarchos Foundation fellow. He is exploring how the geopolitics, history and culture of Greek border zones shape the story of the nation and the future of the Eastern Mediterranean, Balkans and Europe. He previously served as speechwriter for US Embassy in Athens and has worked in Greece including for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation-funded New Agriculture for a New Generation program, Anatolia College and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He was the recipient of an Asian American Writers’ Workshop Margins Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship to Greece and a Soros Fellowship for New Americans.


Paul Rahe holds the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College, where he is professor of history. He is the author of many books, most recently: Sparta’s First Attic War and Sparta’s Second Attic War. He writes frequently on contemporary politics and culture for the website Ricochet. He was an ICWA fellow in Turkey (1984-1986) and currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees.


Katerina Sokou is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center and the Washington DC correspondent for the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini, where she is also a columnist, focusing on transatlantic relations, foreign policy and financial diplomacy since 2013.


Gregory Maniatis is the director of the Office of the Vice President for Global Programs at the Open Society Foundations. Previously, he served as senior advisor to Peter Sutherland, the UN Special Representative for Migration, from 2006 to 2017, and from 2003 to 2016 served as senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.