Monday, June 22, 2020

Erγastirio: Conversations on Greek America_Meeting One_Public Announcement (June 18, 2020)

Session One: Greek Americans and African Americans

Language: English
Date and Time: June 18 (10:00–12:00 a.m. Pacific Time)

Materials and topics for discussion

We will commence the series with a conversation about the encounters between African Americans and Greek Americans. This under-researched topic is directing us toward a fascinating prospect in Greek American studies, the exploration of Greek America in connection with other ethnic and racial groups.

Our departure point for the conversation will be two sources:

a) The recent documentary, “Between Black and White: Greek-Americans in the 20th century” (Available at Youtube: Y06);

b) The book chapter, “Black Metropolis” by Dan Georgakas (available upon request).

Lamprini Thoma, the researcher for this documentary, and Dan Georgakas will be joining us in the discussion.

Participants are asked to watch the documentary and do the reading prior to joining.

The session will consist of two parts:

Part One (50 minutes): Discussion of the documentary “Between Black and White: Greek- Americans in the 20th century.” Participants are encouraged to reflect on the documentary’s representation of the topic (i.e. its representational strategies, and the meanings it produces). What kind of political work does the documentary’s narrative angle perform? Does the narrative contribute to the anti-racist movement? How? Is it vulnerable to be co-opted against that movement? How so?

We will start with a Q&A with Lamprini Thoma and invite a comparison: what do we gain once we read Georgakas’ chapter in relation to the documentary? In what ways does the former nuance the latter? Also, reflect about the ways that “whiteness” and critical race scholarship could contribute to this discussion.

Part Two (50 minutes): Two researchers who work on Greek American topics in relation to “whiteness” will briefly introduce their respective projects and their significance.

Participants are encouraged to reflect on the following questions: what are the challenges and prospects associated with writing about Greek America in this historic moment, which calls for engagement with anti-racist practices?

Have we done enough as a collective (Greek American authors and scholars) in the last twenty years to engage with questions of racial hierarchies and whiteness? If not, why? If yes, how can we continue this work, and expand?

Discussion format & moderation

Thirty seven individuals have registered to join this inaugural event. This interest speaks to the innovative work done in the field as well as to the strong interest for frameworks that facilitate the sharing of research and broader discussion.

The large number of participants, especially in Zoom sessions, poses the risk that the event may be unproductive if it prioritizes simply the statement of positions and perspectives. In the interest of fostering an in-depth exchange, the moderators have no choice but privilege those researchers who have published extensively in Greek American topics. We will be accepting, of course, questions and insights from everyone through chat. But priority in response will be given to those who are particularly active in Greek American studies or U.S. ethnic studies. We appreciate your understanding.


Yiorgos Anagnostou (Professor, Director of the Modern Greek Program at The Ohio State University)

Simos Zenios (Associate Director, UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture)

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