Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Transformation of Greek America

Are we witnessing the end of Greek American identity? Scholars from several disciplines as well as the public outside the academy pose the question. The inquiry comes my way often. As someone who writes about Greek America, I am likely seen as an authority on the subject. Is there a future for this cultural identification? Will it disappear from the US multicultural landscape? Does it matter?

Is the question a sign of premature pessimism? Some see it as out of place. After all, the vibrant presence of US Greek cultural events and practices such as film festivals, preservation societies, radio programs, documentaries, and blogs and social media sites, as well as the proliferation of study abroad travels to Greece for heritage students, create the appearance of a vibrant ethnic group.

In fact, the latest US Census registers a surprising development: a 20 percent increase in the Greek American population between 1980 and 2000, and a further 11 percent growth between 2000 and 2010. How does one explain this development given the low fertility rate of Greek Americans and low levels of immigration from Greece? Sociologists Charles and Peter Moskos propose intermarriage as the “most likely explanation,” with the “non-Greek” spouse being drawn to Greek ethnicity. Greek identity then is embraced by “non-Greeks” and individuals of mixed heritage. In interethnic marriages and among bicultural children, the Greek hyphen offers a desirable source of identification. In these situations, Greek is the dominant identity (1).

Read more, https://bridge.fairead.net/anagnostou-transformation

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Journals of Greek American Studies, Just for the record.

I have been following with interest the ways in which historians, folklorists, cultural studies and Italian American studies scholars engage with "Contours of White Ethnicity: Popular Ethnography and the Making of Usable Pasts in Greek America" (Ohio University Press, 2009) as a work that contributes to the redirection of American ethnic historiography, ethnic whiteness,
as well as popular culture and folklore studies.

Here is an indicative sample, by no means exhaustive:

David Roediger's, "The Racial Turn in Ethnic History." Journal of American Ethnic History, 2017.

Stefano Luconi's "Black dagoes? Italian immigrants’ racial status in the United States: an ecological view," Journal of Transatlantic Studies Volume 14, 2016 - Issue 2: Blurring Boundaries: Race and Transatlantic Identities in Culture and Society. pp. 188-199

Joseph Sciorra's "Reimagining white ethicity, a conversation," http://www.iitaly.org/magazine/focus/life-people/article/reimagining-white-ethnicity-conversation-joseph-sciorra

John Gennari's, Flavor and Soul: Italian America at Its African American Edge, The U of Chicago Press, 2017, p. 253.

Multiple entries on European Americans and Whiteness studies, in Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia, edited by Carlos E. Cortés. Sage, 2013.

Roundtable review of Contours of White Ethnicity, Italian American Review Vol. 3.(1): 2013.

Daniel S. Margolies's "Ethnographic and Folkoristic Study of Popular Culture," in A Companion to Popular Culture, edited by Gary Burns. Wiley Blackwell, 2016.

Given this interest that Contours has been generating outside Greek American studies, I cannot possibly not note the following silence: With the exception of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies no Greek American studies journal showed any interest in reviewing Contours. The book was ignored. Taking note of this historical omission. Just for the record.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bridge, A New Online Platform – Building Bridges, Probing Intersections

Bridge offers a platform for writers and readers to cross into a multifaceted terrain, that of “Greek America.” For the purpose of this writing, I refer to Greek America as a wide range of collectives, institutions, organizations, and individuals that cultivate and animate Greek expressions in connection with the United States. These include the following: populations that claim a Greek label in self-ascription (“Greek Americans,” “Greeks in America,” “American Greeks,” etc.) and also in expression—participating or coordinating, for example, cultural events such as Greek film festivals; institutions such as Greek Orthodox parishes, US Modern Greek studies programs, and regional associations such as the Pancretan; or individuals, such as authors, artists, and others–regardless of ethnic background–who explore, either in public or in private, Greek/American intersections.

For more see, 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Τόποι Διασπορικής Μνήμης

Στο Μπάτον Ρουζ της Λουϊζιάνας όπου άρχισε η προσωπική μου περιπέτεια της Αμερικής στα μέσα του 1980, η (συρρικνωμένη) κοινωνική μας ζωή περιστρεφόταν γύρω από μια ομάδα Ελλήνων φοιτητών οι οποίοι ήταν και συνάμα σερβιτόροι (και bus boys) στο εστιατόριο Ζορμπας, Ελληνοκυπριακής ιδιοκτησίας.

Ήταν μια ομάδα αλληλοβοήθειας που την έδεναν οι κοινές προκλήσεις προσαρμογής στο νέο τόπο, και σε κάποιες περιπτώσεις φιλίες. Αργότερα η ομάδα διασκορπίστηκε, τα μέλη της χάθηκαν. Η αρχική διασπορά μας συνέδεσε, οι κατοπινές διασπορές προς διαφορες κατευθύνσεις μας διέλυσε.

Από ένα από αυτά τα χαμένα μέλη έλαβα πρόσφατα το παρακάτω "ensemble" που «συγκολλεί» τους πρωταγωνιστές εκείνης της ιστορίας. Η συνύπαρξη δημιουργείται μέσω αντιπαράθεσης εικόνων. Η εστίαση είναι στο πρόσωπο του καθενός, το οποίο συντελεί στην λειτουργία του ensemble σαν τόπου μνήμης ανθρώπων. 'Οχι χώρων αλλά ανθρώπων. Η εμφανής τεχνικότητα του ensemble φυσικά τονίζεται και από τα βλέμματα των χαρακτήρων. Πολλά στραμμένα πέρα του κάδρου εναντιώνονται προς οποιαδήποτε ανάγνωση τους σαν εννιαίου όλου. «Και μαζί και χώρια» σαν να μας λέει.

Αυτό το φωτογραφικό ensemble που συγκεντρώνει το διεσπαρμένο, που αποπειράται μια ενότητα του κατακερματισμένου δεν είναι κάτι ιδιοσυγκρασιακό. Το έχει εντοπίσει και αναλύσει σαν πολιτιστική πρακτική η ιστορικός Πηνελόπη Παπαηλία, αν θυμάμα καλά, σαν στρατηγική οικογενειών κατακερματισμένων από τη μετανάστευση. To enseble καθιστά παρουσία στην θέση της απουσίας, ενότητα στην πραγματικότητα της διάσπασης. Είναι μια τεχνολογία συνεύρεσης που παραδόξως υπογραμμίζει την απουσία της. Είναι ίσως αυτή η ένταση που δημιουργεί την πλημμύρα αισθημάτων (powerful affect) σε αυτούς που άμεσα εμπλέκονται με αυτήν την αναπαράσταση.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Stop calling the NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo a "Greek Freak"

Stop calling the NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo a "Greek Freak." The term "freak" has a long history in the United States of dehumanizing persons. And in the context of Greek political and cultural identity (who is entitled to Greek citizenship and who belongs to the Greek nation), the ascription "Greek Freak" to Giannis makes him an aberration. It renders him a non-normal Greek. This in the context of the political struggle to integrate the children of immigrants in Greece as political equals. It is astonishing that there is no iota of self reflexivity in media and popular culture which uses the label to sensationalize this incredible basket ball player. Stop calling Giannis a "Greek Freak." The label is damaging at so many levels, in so many different ways.

Postscript: There has been a most productive exchange about this question on my fb page where i too posted this note. Based on the discussion, here is a tentative framework to think this question: the sports industry markets Giannis as unusual, an amazing wonder, a spectacle; this commodification may be associated with what is measured as his unusual physique (an object of study and fascination). Important to note that "freak shows" were operating under the same principle. Clearly an extensive analysis of the wide range in the uses of the term and context of use is necessary. 

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