Sunday, February 27, 2011
The Modern Greek Studies Association's Transnational Studies Committee is pleased to announce the establishment of "The Greek American Studies Resource Portal" which anyone who is interested in this field can access from the MGSA website (www.mgsa.org/Resources/port.html).
The creation of such a Resource Portal grew out of the expressed desire by academics, students and cultural producers alike to provide information on research, activities, and resources in the field of Greek American Studies broadly defined.
The Portal includes:
1) Academic publications on Greek America, including book reviews.
2) Non-academic publications on Greek America, including autobiographies, community histories, fiction, poetry, photography, painting, etc.
3) Essays, articles, and book reviews published in the media
4) Films and documentaries
5) Updates and announcements of current oral history work undertaken in academic institutions as well as in Greek American communities
6) Research queries regarding Greek American topics
We request scholars, writers, artists and other cultural producers whose work explores the Greek world in the United States and/or the connections between Greece and the United States (repatriated Greek Americans, Greek films on Greek America, Greek writings about Greek Americans, etc.) to continue to submit the full citation of their work in MLA format, including a two to three sentence description of their work. This portal will be periodically updated to highlight the most recent resources available in the field and entries will be eventually archived in the MGSA webpage under the heading "Resource Portal."
Yiorgos Anagnostou, The Ohio State University (email@example.com)
Martha Klironomos, San Francisco State University (firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-chairs, Transnational Studies Committee
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Δεν είναι λίγες οι φορές όμως που οι πολίτες αντιπαραθέτουν την εικόνα του πετυχημένου, ηθικά καλού, και νομιμόφρονα 'Ελληνα μετανάστη με την εικόνα του παράνομου, αχάριστου, και εγκληματία ξένου μετανάστη, ώστε να στιγματίσουν τον τελευταίο.
Μήπως όμως αυτή η αναπαράσταση του ΄Ελληνα έχει εξωραϊστεί από την επίσημη ιστοριογραφία; Δύο πρόσφατες δημοσιεύσεις στην εφημερίδα Τα Νεα παρεμβαίνουν σε αυτήν την συζήτηση, φέρνοντας στο φως ιστορικά στοιχεία που καταγράφουν ξεχασμένες (καταπιεσμένες;) διαστάσεις της Ελληνικής μετανάστευσης. Ο συγγραφέας των, Γιάννης Η. Χάρης, δεν διστάζει να αναφερθεί στο γεγονός ότι δεν της έλλειψαν το παράνομο και παραβατικό στοιχείο, το οποίο και τονίζει. Η αξία μιας μη-κανονιστικής και πολυφασματικής ιστοριογραφίας αποδεικνύεται εδώ αναμφισβήτητα χρήσιμη στην υπηρεσία μιας συγκεκριμένης πολιτικής θέσης.
«Λαθραίοι, απειλητικοί και απόβλητοι»:
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
By Vicki James Yannias (originally published in Odyssey: The World of Greece, Spring 2010, pp. 14–15).
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Greek Americans self-censor their family histories! This is the discovery of historian Steve Frangos, published in an op-ed in The National Herald. The editorial, tellingly entitled “It’s Always a Wonderful Life in Greek-American Fairy Tales,” offers the following testimony: “I have been asked,” Frangos writes, “to take out the parts in the articles where eyewitness accounts or the stories told to children by their parents about when the KKK chased some ancestor into the water, when say a bank twisted the law to intentionally destroy a Greek businessman from succeeding on a level field with local Wasp businessmen, or how even years after attacks by Wasps, inclusive of the KKK, local Greek immigrants and their children wanted me to take out the names of those who once actively sought to hurt them” (thenationalherald.com/article/47343, October 8, 2010).
In other words, Greek Americans consciously regulate what can be known about their past. Turning family stories into public documents entails selective telling.
This controlling of public history exercises censorship on two levels: a) it perpetuates silence about violence and injustices in the past; and b) refrains from naming those who were involved. Disclosure of these issues raises distinct ethical and legal issues. More is likely at stake when one reveals the names of the individuals or institutions who perpetrated the violence.
The editorial revisits a well-known practice: the sugarcoating of ethnic history. Exasperated in tone, it joins the voices of those who have been protesting for some time Greek America’s tendency to idealize its past. Many authors and historians have openly criticizing this sugarcoating, though their writings does not always enjoy the visibility it deserves.
There are good reasons to object to the kind of “history” that blatantly violates all rules of historical inquiry. It is justifiable to say that the sugarcoating of ethnic history entails a form of self-inflicted violence since it excises a whole range of experiences–resentments, exclusions, unrewarded toil, and loss–that have profoundly shaped scores of Greek American lives.
Of course the notion of oral history as selective telling is widely recognized among folklorists and oral historians. This is how Alison Cadbury aptly puts it: "When you live in a village … everyday life is as engaging as fiction" she writes, referring to the stories, histories and gossip people tell, of which there are "as many versions as tellers." "So common among villagers is the practice of embroidering a tale that a typical response to any story is either doubtful 'Alithia?' 'Truth?' or adamantly, 'Psemata!' 'Lies!' followed by imaginative analysis, speculation, and argument about the 'real' events, motives, and so forth" (Panigyri: A Celebration of Life in a Greek Island Village, 5).
But collecting oral histories in Greek America is an entirely different practice than collecting stories in the context of a village. In the village setting the telling takes place in the presence of an audience which shares common history but may have alternative interpretations of the narrated facts. In this context the truth of a story is negotiated in the act of telling; people contest stories, and in so doing they offer their own version of truth. As a result storytelling produces a plurality of versions about the past.
Not so in the context of the private interview between an oral historian and a story teller. In the absence of a wider audience the story teller may exercise the power of offering his version as the ultimate truth. Unlike the village, the remembering of history here is one-sided, monologic.
What can be done then to ensure that oral history does not limit our understanding of Greek America's history? What can we do to confront the picture-perfect view of Greek America the beautiful?
To be continued
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I hold a new white sheet of paper.
As pure and light-filled as the virgin blocks of marble
that became the Parthenon.
My hands, lacking the skill or vision of Iktinos and Kallikrates
yet they seek the same perfect symmetry
I fold it once, carefully creased, like the perfect cuts in stone Socrates must have made.
I have the idea of the perfect shape. How close can I come?
A lovely rectangle.
Is it the right proportion?
The golden ratio?
I call the Greek statistical service.
One point 62 to 1. Is that correct?
Oh! They no longer care about that ratio;
they have other numbers on their mind.
“We gave the Europeans lovely books with beautiful math.
They thanked us for them,” the man across the Atlantic said.
“Now they say they are ugly, that they are lies,”
the man across the Atlantic said.
“Beauty is not truth any more.
We have ripped up those books.”
I understand, I said, offering sympathy.
Good luck with the reforms.
“Stick it with your reforms Amerikanaki!”
[tear folded paper in half]
We are Greeks.
We feel divided.
We have always felt that,
Not Greek enough for the homeland, not really sure of our place in the land of our birth.
We feel torn.
Part Greek, part American.
Torn like this. [tear paper again]
We can choose, however, sometimes,
who and where to be.
When we go to Greece, some of us can be Greek.
My accent is pretty good, and my relatives love me,
but their friends are not too polite.
Even our family’s living rooms we are torn.
“You are a capitalist. You are all evil agents of globalization.”
They are socialists, even the conservative party.
The real ideology of all the Greek parties is “let’s party!”
The real ideal of the Greek Americans is let’s make money.
work work work – not in the arts or philanthropy – give you parents a heart attack will you?
The business of America is business said a failed president
Money money money.
They like that word.
“We are not Germans,” they say.
Neither are we I respond.
We party too, but we work.
Work work work our words reek to the Greeks
I feel another split [tearing paper in half again]
We’re all praying for Greece I say,
hoping to spread some good will.
“Pray?” my uncle said, to whom?” “We don’t pray anymore” said one.
“We pray to Zeus” said a third.
Another blurted “We don’t pray with priests.”
In America, we still go to church.
It may disappoint us but they usually don’t disgust us.
Try to stay away from those monasteries.
Another direction to decide about during my trip to Greece.
Another fork in the road to the true Greece.
The forks tear at us
I go to church anyway.
I have other relatives.
People do still go to church in Greece.
Happy nameday Ilia!
What are you telling me” It’s not my nameday!
That’s in two weeks. Live by the real calendar!
We are the true church.”
Another division. Old calendar, new calendar
My Greece is disappearing.
I’m losing the whole for the parts.
Let me leave my relatives and make some new friends.
Here’s a nice lounge.
I’m Ntinos. What’s your name? Geia sou Mihali!
Oh, sorry. Yes I have an accent. Oh - you think I speak well?
I’m from New York. You love New York? Great!
When you visit call me we’ll get together with my parea.
I’ll introduce you to my sister.
Wonderful! A new friend!
I feel Peace, healing, brotherhood.
Ellada lives after all!
Where is your family from? Nice! I can’t wait to go there.
Mine are from Siphnos.
Very green. Known for its cooking and its pottery.
Um, Yes it’s an island.
What do you mean
we islanders think we are better than mainlanders?
Aren’t we all Greek?
Aren’t we all human beings?
Wait, what soccer team do you like?
[Tear up the rest of the paper into bits and toss them in the air]
Originally Published in The National Herald, January 27, 2011