Associated with notions of family continuity, lineage, national belonging, and cultural roots, in Greece property inheritance was once highly desired. Yet, in recent years, there has been a rising trend of people wanting to be disinherited because of the economic burden of new taxes introduced as part of the international austerity program and the need to focus all resources on the short-term future of the immediate family. The desire for disinheritance amounts to a longing for disconnectedness, for exiting not only political structures but also kinship structures that have been historically closely linked with a Greek sense of self as particular political subjects. A focus on inheritance demonstrates how the political can be located in the mundane and the everyday.
Daniel M. Knight
Daniel M. Knight
The consequences of prolonged fiscal austerity have left people in Trikala, central Greece, with feelings of intense temporal vertigo: confusion and anxiety about where and when they belong in overarching timelines of pasts and futures. Some people report feeling ‘thrown back in time’ to past eras of poverty and suffering, while others discuss their experiences of the current crisis situation as reliving multiple moments of the past assembled in the present. This article analyses how locals understand their complex experiences of time and temporality, and promotes the accommodation of messy narratives of time that can otherwise leave the researcher feeling sea-sick.
Daniel M. Knight
The Greek economic crisis resonates across Europe as synonymous with corruption, poor government, austerity, financial bailouts, civil unrest, and social turmoil. The search for accountability on the local level is entangled with competing rhetorics of persuasion, fear, and complex historical consciousness. Internationally, the Greek crisis is employed as a trope to call for collective mobilization and political change. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Trikala, central Greece, this article outlines how accountability for the Greek economic crisis is understood in local and international arenas. Trikala can be considered a microcosm for the study of the pan-European economic turmoil as the “Greek crisis“ is heralded as a warning on national stages throughout the continent.
Through an examination of Henry Miller’s account of his journey to Greece in 1939, as expressed in his travel book The Colossus of Maroussi, this article examines the image of this country his writing presents. Miller’s description of people, places, and environment is infused with a mystical, spiritual element, as if something magical emanates from the cultural environment of this country and tints the landscape and its inhabitants, adding an atemporal dreamlike qual- ity. The group of literati Miller befriended during his five-month stay in Greece viewed Greek art, culture, and history in an archetypal way, which blends well with Miller’s approach. This analysis of the enchanted world Miller claims to have met and experienced during his journey could thus possibly acquire further significance through tentatively relating it to the way contemporary Greeks may experience aspects of their culture and their Greekness.
Maria Petmesidou and Periklis Polyzoidis
The subject matter of the ‘social’, defined as the realisation of the self in the context of collective identity, provides the central premise of the social quality perspective. On the basis of this premise the ENIQ (European Network on Indicators of Social Quality) project explored the four conditional factors of social quality, namely the extent to which social structures, patterns of interaction and policy processes, in European societies, promote (or hinder) socio-economic security, social inclusion, social cohesion and empowerment. These are key factors for gauging ‘the extent to which people are able to participate in the social and economic life of their communities under conditions which enhance their well-being and individual potential’ (ENIQ 2004: 2; also Beck et al., 2001). In this article we will briefly examine the four conditional factors of social quality from the viewpoint of socio-economic structures, policies and daily experience in Greece. In the first part we highlight some distinctive features of Greek society that are relevant to our analysis. We then proceed to a short discussion of each of the four conditional factors and their constitutive domains (and indicators). We conclude with some brief remarks on good practices and policy implications.
Jean-Pierre Vernant and intellectual innovation in ancient Greece
S. C. Humphreys
This article illustrates the need for a historical anthropology of the longue durée, dealing with pre-modern societies, by analyzing the work of Jean-Pierre Vernant on the development of thought in ancient Greece. Vernant's anthropologies began with Marx and the historical psychologist Ignace Meyerson; he was influenced by the Durkheimian Louis Gernet and later by Lévi-Strauss. His early interest in relating Greek rationality to social organization led him increasingly into work on Greek religion and tragedy. This article builds on his work by studying the social contexts of communication that facilitated the proposal and elaboration of unconventional ideas.
Racial nationalism and anthropological science
This article deals with the theory of the "strong nucleus of the Greek race" elaborated by the Greek physical anthropologist Ioannis Koumaris (1879-1970), who headed all academic anthropological institutions in Greece between 1915 and 1970. According to this theory human groups were in a state of "fluid constancy," meaning that the "proper" nucleus of the predominant race always persisted in a stable form despite miscegenation, and was hence capable of resurfacing. This theory footed, first, on racial theories challenging the existence of "pure races" in favor of evidencing "racial varieties" and "racial types" and, second, an early Greek national idea according to which Hellenism possessed the ability to acculturate and absorb foreign peoples or nations without losing its innate qualities. The Greek notion fili (meaning both nation and race), and its shifting semantics from religious to national and racial, is similarly instrumental to this analysis. By means of this theory racial purity was not so much rejected as it was relativized, essentially being replaced by the constancy of a race over time. With the shift from purity to constancy, the imperative of the homogeneity of an entity is not violated but, in contrast, supported by race anthropological arguments. Race hygienic theories, in turn, advanced the shift from racial consistency to purification.
Informality, Sociality, and the Greek Crisis
During times of crisis, economic practices organized on principles of reciprocity often arise. Greece, with the vibrant sociality pertaining to its 'solidarity economy', is a case in point. This article is premised on the idea that crises make contradictions in societies more visible. I suggest that a central contradiction is at play in Greece between informal and formalized economic activity, as demonstrated in the tension between the fluid features of 'solidarity' networks and the formalization proposed or imposed on them by state institutions. In Thessaloniki, the informal solidarity economy proves to be more efficient than the work of NGOs. Arguing that such economic activities are built around the rise of new forms of sociality rather than a tendency toward bureaucratization, the article contributes to anthropological understandings of solidarity and welfare, as well as their relation.
Border Dynamics and Reversion to Ancient Past in Southern Albania
Gilles de Rapper
In the last ten years, many books and articles dedicated to Pelasgians have been published in Albania, mostly by amateur historians and linguists. These works question the official discourse on the Illyrian origin of Albanians inherited from the socialist era. They also question the relationship of Albanians with Greeks, both in ancient times and in the present. Considering the fact that a significant number of those authors originate from southern Albania and that their books are widely read and appreciated in this Albanian borderland, this article argues that the recent success of Pelasgic theories can be partially explained by the new uses of the border in the post-1991 context and by the state of relations between Albanians and Greeks as experienced at the local level. Imagining the Pelasgians as prestigious ancestors appears as an answer to feelings of inequality and marginality related to new practices of the border.
Collective Action and Subjective Power in the Greek Anti-Austerity Movement
Atalanti Evripidou and John Drury
Greece has been one of the countries which most severely suffered the consequences of the global economic crisis during the past two years. It has also been a country with a long tradition of protest. The present paper reports a study in which we examined the ways in which people talk about subjective power and deal with the outcome of collective action in the context of defeat. Subjective power has recently become a prominent field of research and its link to collective action has been studied mainly through the concept of collective efficacy. The current study explored questions based on recent social identity accounts of subjective power in collective action. We examined participants’ experiences of subjective power before and after Mayday 2012, in Greece. Two different collective action events took place: a demonstration against austerity and a demonstration to support steel workers who were on strike. In total, 19 people were interviewed, 9 before the demonstrations and 10 after. Thematic analysis was carried out. Protest participants talked about power in terms of five first-order themes: the necessity of building power, unity, emotional effects, effects of (dis)organization, and support as success. The steel workers we spoke to experienced the events more positively than the other interviewees and had different criteria for success. Theories of collective action need to take account of the fact that subjective power has important emotional as well as cognitive dimensions, and that definitions of success depend on definitions of identity.