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Escaping Gentrification?

The Athenian Metaxourgio Grassroots Carnival as a Contested Event

Regina Zervou and Mina Dragouni

Abstract

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.