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Women and Carnival Space

Gender and Carnival in a North Aegean Island Community

Regina Zervou

This article focuses on gender relations through the performance of carnival rites in a North Aegean island rural community. Based on qualitative research, it approaches the women’s use of public space during carnival and the changes under the influence of women’s emancipation since the 1970s. The percentage of women, especially young girls, participating in carnival rites has risen dramatically over the last decade. However, not all carnival public spaces are equally open to women. The article examines the way women try to impose their presence on the strictly male universe of the carnival space and especially the marketplace, the traditional and timeless core of the carnival rites, where only men can pronounce the obscene carnival language, fruit of the kafeneion male discourse and the reactions of the male community to the novelties brought by feminism into the village.

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Escaping Gentrification?

The Athenian Metaxourgio Grassroots Carnival as a Contested Event

Regina Zervou and Mina Dragouni


Contemporary carnivals represent rather banal spectacles, harnessed by institutional control and stripped of their meaning as disruptive processes of revelry, expressivity and defiance. However, when organised at grassroots level, carnivals may retain their subversive character, revealing intentions to cross the limits of urban normality. By drawing on ethnographic data, this article explores the carnival of Metaxourgio in Athens, performed in a multicultural neighbourhood at the heart of the metropolis by a small group of young artists and creatives. Based on the notions of liminality and threshold, it analyses how the carnival creates a temporal universe that challenges mainstream perceptions of public space and Otherness, contests gentrification and seeks to maintain a sense of community in a world of ever-shifting boundaries of precarity.