****New Item – Under Athens: Blogs, documentaries, interviews, research, analysis: The City at a Time of Crisis: Tracking and researching crisis-ridden public spaces in Athens, Greece, http://www.crisis-scape.net/ -----------------------------------------------------------
It is well established that popular culture (blogs, videos, films, magazines, newspaper, etc), strategically used, may serve as valuable resource in undergraduate teaching.
Used in conjunction with writings in the humanities and the social sciences, the analysis of popular culture in the classroom offers a further advantage: it demonstrates the value of academic research to help students make sense of and think critically about the cultural products they routinely consume as part of their leisure and entertainment. This strategy brings the humanities closer to the students' lives.
The attribute of popular culture familiarity may hold true in courses on Greek America, as American students may recognize Greek American popular culture as part of their own experience (Festivals, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Ellis Island museum, Ethnic Roots and Ancestry.com, etc). But it no longer operates, at least in a large scale, in courses on Modern Greece (The 2004 Athens Olympics is a counter-example here). Thus popular culture, particularly visual material, could be invaluable in introducing Greek culture to American students. Films, documentaries, and musical performances offer a visual point of reference to contextualize cultural practices, and to turn the exotic into the familiar and the familiar into the exotic.
I start therefore a new module identifying the popular-culture resources that I find useful in my teaching. It is my hope that those educators teaching courses on modern Greece, the Greek diaspora, and Greek America will contribute to this discussion.
ATHENS: • Video Documentary – Athens in Crisis and Graffiti
"In May 2011, hundreds of thousands of Greeks swarmed into Syntagma Square in Athens to protest against the firesale of their country, their labor rights and their livelihoods to corrupt domestic elites and foreign financial interests.
In a matter of days, a protest camp was set up -- organized on the principles of direct democracy, leaderless self-management and mutual aid -- providing a glimpse of utopia in the midst of a devastating financial, political and social crisis. On June 28-29, during a Parliamentary vote on further austerity measures, the state finally responded with brutal force, eventually evicting the protesters from the square and crushing the radical potential of their social experiment..."
• Architecture - Neoclassical Buildings (destruction of): Indispensable photographic and visual resource, which icludes a data base of contemporary monuments and the documentary "Here is Athens ... the city before" (circa 1980) (www.eie.gr/archaeologia/En/Index.aspx)
Documentary Educational Resources have created a film about an old woman from a village in Epirus. A preview is available in youtube (see link above).
Kalliopi Kalogerou has spent her whole life in the Greek village of Ano Ravenia where she was born in 1900. Simple witness of the century, she lived through Turkish domination and successive occupations linked to different wars. Devoted exclusively to her life story, the result is a rich, yet austere film where nothing distracts the viewer from the dialogue and the face of the storyteller (originally posted at the MGSA listserv by Lampros F. Kallenos).
ΞΕΧΑΣΜΕΝΑ ΒΑΛΚΑΝΙΑ 100 χρόνια από τους Βαλκανικούς Πολέμους. "«Τα Ξεχασμένα Βαλκάνια» είναι ένα πρωτότυπο ντοκιμαντέρ σε σενάριο και σκηνοθεσία του Ανδρέα Αποστολίδη, βασισμένο στις πρώτες φωτογραφίες και ταινίες των Βαλκανίων. Η ταινία διερευνά τη ζωή των απλών ανθρώπων εν μέσω των δραματικών αλλαγών που μεταμόρφωσαν τα Βαλκάνια στο γύρισμα του 20ου αιώνα: στόχος της είναι να εξηγήσει πώς η συνύπαρξη διαφορετικών εθνοτικών και θρησκευτικών ομάδων κατά τη διάρκεια της Οθωμανικής Αυτοκρατορίας, έκλεισε με την άνοδο του εθνικισμού, μετά από σχεδόν τέσσερις αιώνες. «Τα Ξεχασμένα Βαλκάνια» περιλαμβάνουν σπάνιο φωτογραφικό και κινηματογραφικό υλικό απ' όλη την Ευρώπη και τα Βαλκάνια, καθώς και συνεντεύξεις με τους: Mark Mazower (Πανεπιστήμιο Columbia), Χριστίνα Κουλούρη (Πάντειο Πανεπιστήμιο, Αθήνα) Halil Berktay (Πανεπιστήμιο Sabanci, Κωνσταντινούπολη), Machiel Kiel, Irena Stefoska (Πανεπιστήμιο "St. Cyril and Methodius", Σκόπια), Radina Vucetic (Πανεπιστήμιο Βελιγραδίου), Frasher Demaj (Ινστιτούτο Ιστορίας, Πρίστινα), Alexei Kalionski (Πανεπιστήμιο της Σόφιας) και ο Δημήτρη Λιβάνιο (Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης)."
"Μέσα από μαρτυρίες και σπάνιο αρχειακό υλικό, το ντοκιμαντέρ «Δυο φορές ξένος» εστιάζει στους διωγμούς των Βαλκανίων.
Βασισμένο στο ομότιτλο βιβλίο του δημοσιογράφου Μπρους Κλαρκ, το ντοκιμαντέρ «Δυο φορές ξένος» των Ανδρέα Αποστολίδη και Γιούρι Αβέρωφ εγκαινιάζει για το 2012 το πρόγραμμα προβολών του Cine Doc στο Γαλλικό Ινστιτούτο.
Στις αρχές του 20ού αιώνα, οι περισσότεροι κάτοικοι των χωρών των Βαλκανίων ζούσαν στην «πολυεθνική» Οθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, η οποία επέτρεπε σε Χριστιανούς, Μουσουλμάνος και Εβραίους να συμβιώνουν ειρηνικά.
Ωστόσο, το 1924, αυτός ο κόσμος είχε πια καταρρεύσει. Περί τους 400.000 μουσουλμάνους εκδιώχθηκαν από την Ελλάδα, την ώρα που τουλάχιστον 1,2 εκατομμύρια έλληνες ορθόδοξοι αναγκάζονταν να εγκαταλείψουν τα σπίτια τους στην Τουρκία.
Το ντοκιμαντέρ «Δυο φορές ξένος» ξετυλίγει την ιστορία μέσα από σπάνιο αρχειακό υλικό, συνεντεύξεις με ιστορικούς και συγκλονιστικές προφορικές μαρτυρίες προσφύγων από την Ελλάδα και την Τουρκία. «Είναι μια ταινία για ανθρώπους που ξεριζώθηκαν από τα σπίτια τους, η κοινή τους εμπειρία για τις χαμένες πατρίδες: η ιστορία του να είσαι «Δύο φορές ξένος» αναφέρουν οι δημιουργοί του.
Στην ταινία εμφανίζονται μεταξύ άλλων οι Μπρους Κλαρκ (που υπήρξε επίσης επιστημονικός σύμβουλός της μαζί με τον Ιάκωβο Μιχαηλίδη), ο συγγραφέας Τζάιλς Μίλτον και οι Θάνος Βερέμης, Κωνσταντίνος Φωτιάδης, Μιλούν επίσης Έλληνες και Τούρκοι πρόσφυγες από την Κρήτη, τη Μυτιλήνη, την Καππαδοκία, τον Πόντο, τη Σμύρνη και τη Δυτική Μακεδονία.
Το ντοκιμαντέρ «Δυο φορές ξένος» είναι μια συμπαραγωγή της ΕΡΤ με την ΑΝΕΜΟΝ, σε συνεργασία με το cross-media project «ΔΥΟ ΦΟΡΕΣ ΞΕΝΟΣ»."
My name is Mihalis. I was born in Athens, in 1980. My parents lived in Pangrati at the time. Once I was born we moved to Patisia. My parents are from Nigeria. My father came to Greece for College, in the 1970s. My mother joined him some time later. I don't remember much from my childhood. It was fine with my schoolmates in elementary school. It was only during soccer-related brawls that they insulted me because of my color. I was the only black student in the school. I also remember this scene: One day, after a fight, they put me in the middle and kept cursing me. Then one boy, his name was Ilias, rushed to my defense. Since then we became buddies. At home we first we spoke Nigerian and English. But this interfered with my school performance until a teacher instructed my parents to speak Greek to me. With time Greek became the language we used at home. Greek and hip hop. I exclusively speak Greek since I was nine years old. I am fluent in English. I understand Nigerian but no longer speak it. I got my passion for music because of all these different language sounds I was exposed to. In high school I developed a passion for street art, hip hop and Dream "N" Base. I spent a great deal of time organizing parties and exchanging music with my friends. At that time I became very religious. And with religion came existential conflict. Because religion advocated peace and hip hop spoke about revolution. Religion was a wish, hip hop was action. Hip hop and street art served as outlets for me. At that time I started writing poetry. I wrote about racism too. All of a sudden I became conscious about something I had repressed: the color of my skin; being black. I am proud to be black. To be black however, is to keep facing a wall in front of you. It means to spend a great deal of energy to convince people around you that you are not only good for selling CDs [many immigrants from Africa are CD vendors] or play basketball; to convince them that you can become a lawyer, a doctor, a writer, anything you wish. To be black means to live with the reality of your color, to breath it [color becomes an inherent part of you]. People do not allow you to forget it [color marks you as different in the eyes of the people; you are not allowed to pass unnoticed]. You shock them the most, however, when you speak to them in Greek without an accent. This shocks them. Anyway... It was one summer in the island of Syros when my life was turned upside down. I had just finished high school and wanted to study Fine Arts. I started taking private lessons in drawing. That summer I went to Syros to practice in my tutor's workshop. I was strolling one evening when a police car stopped in front of me. Two policemen asked for my papers. The only document I had with me was my birth certificate; I thought this was enough since I was born in Greece. I was taken to the police station where I was informed that the papers were not complete. One policeman told me that I would be deported. Where? I asked? To the border and then to the country you came from. I did not come to Greece, I was born in Greece I said. I got no answer. “Deportation,” “borders,” I felt like the whole thing was unreal (that it was like being in a film). Things turned upside down, I was scared to death. I stayed in prison for three days, sleeping on the ground in a tiny, dark cell with two Pakistani nationals who spoke neither English nor Greek. During these three days everything turned upside down within me. I was released after friends and lawyers intervened. Many questions torture me since then. Who was I? I understood then why I was not called to serve the army (army service is mandatory for all Greek males). "My friend you are a foreigner," I told myself. I didn't want to believe it though. I thought the police had made a mistake. [These thoughts] were a defense mechanism so that I will not collapse. The papers, the papers, the papers. When the words "papers" and "allodapos/someone from another place/foreigner" entered my life I saw my situation clearly. I went to the City Hall and asked if they could issue an ID for me since I was born here. They curtly said no. Then the whole bureaucratic process takes over: waiting in lines, going back and forth between one office and the next, the unending waiting. By the time the permit is issued it is already expired. Then the same process starts all over again, the endless waiting. With this your life goes to waste. Your best years are wasted chasing this permit. You cannot travel anywhere. I abandoned my dream to attend College because of this situation. In 2002 I was invited in France to represent Greece in a street art performance. I could not go because I had no papers. I wanted to start my own business but I could not because I had no papers. Greek is my language… Gradually you feel a gap between yourself and your friends. They move on and about freely. But anyone who has no papers cannot make plans for the future. Talking about a life that degenerates. You are twenty years old and cannot make plans for the future. As a result you are worn out imperceptible, you feel small, you turn inward (become anti-social). You have to watch out not to become a misanthropist; not to see everyone around you as an enemy. Then there are all these questions [you ask yourself]: Who are you? You were born here, you sing the Greek national anthem, you recited poems in school during Greek independence celebrations. Still, you are considered a foreigner. You have never been to Nigeria. Greek is your language. So, what are you? If this does not drive you to insane, what will? You have to fight tooth and nail not to allow this reality to wipe you out. What do I do these days? I spend time listening to music and with the street art theater. I now work at "Cosmopolitanism," a cultural center that organizes many events with immigrant artists. [You are asking] about my papers? It has been two years that I have been waiting. About the future? The future, my friend, is my dreams. My dreams are my shield and my freedom…
Washington is buzzing about Immigration Reform – a subject to which Greek-Americans can relate. We understand the subject of immigration and the need to update our immigration laws, which both shortchange today’s Greeks and fail to effectively manage the influx of immigrants from other nations. Today’s immigration reform can better secure our borders and more efficiently expel convicted criminals. It can also find ways to better integrate into our country, through proper channels, scores of people who, like the Greek-American immigrants of our community, are hard-working, family-oriented lovers of America.
Our community remembers how tough it is to be an immigrant. All of the Greek-Americans who immigrated to this country in the early 1900s were dirt poor. Like today’s immigrants, they came to our shores with nothing but a burning desire to improve their lives, and, more importantly, for Greek immigrants, a desire to improve the lives of their children. … As we participate in our democracy as it addresses immigration reform, it might be helpful for us to remember our history – to remind ourselves that although our immigrant parents, grandparents and great grandparents were dirt poor, uneducated, and often illiterate in English and Greek, they were among the finest people we have ever known. We all might handle the immigration reform issue more wisely if we remind ourselves that we really are for today’s immigrants, legal and illegal, their “fellow immigrants.”