Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Diasporic Literature"

New magazine on the literature of the Greek diaspora:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Greek America and the "New Global Soup of Kypseli"

Manolis Rasoulis in Memoriam

"Chara ston Ellina pou Ellhnoxehna
kai sto Sikago mesa noiothei lefteria"

Immigrant Women in the Work of Helen Papanikolas (III)

The Journeys of an Immigrant Woman: A Quest for Home

Numerous pioneer immigrant women experienced immigration as an alienating dislocation, an exile. Yet the initial sense of loss, marginality, and hardship gradually meshed with nascent feelings of attachment and hopes of America as a place of belonging. Papanikolas reports that America eventually felt as home to many of those women, though the complex process of this transformation remains largely unexplored in her writings. The biography of her parents, Emily - George, however, offers insights on this topic. In this work, which fuses personal testimony, eyewitness accounts and archival research, Papanikolas weaves an intimate narrative exploration of the emotional journeys and material circumstances leading to her mother’s rootedness in America.

Emily’s biography can be mapped as a series of movements across geographical social, psychic, ethnic and class locations. When in 1901 an accident incapacitated her father, she left her natal village in Western Thrace and moved to the city of Thessaloniki, at the time part of the Ottoman Empire. Transported from her rural origins to an urban environment Emily finds herself at the intersection of shifting, multiple locations. As a servant for an affluent Greek family she experiences class marginality. When she later followed the family in its resettlement in Istanbul, Emily is simultaneously at the margins and vicariously at the center of the thriving Greek bourgeoisie community in the city. Two years later, when she took the bold step to migrate to America, she experiences new cartographies of class instability and the added task of linguistic and racial marginality. She initially led a peripatetic life in the American West as a domestic servant, first working for the wealthy family of a Greek immigrant banker in Salt Lake City, and later for a married labor agent in Pocatello, Idaho. She eventually married Yioryis, a Greek immigrant, and joined him in a family odyssey of frequent moves within Utah, before settling in Salt Lake City during the Depression.

Emily’s journey was punctuated with traumatic dislocations but also enriching relocations. She crossed class and social boundaries when she became a wage earner and moved from her rural origins to cities in Ottoman Turkey and later in America. She was economically depended as a servant, though she was able to achieve some measure of economic self-determination to migrate to America. Her social life was limited, yet she was exposed to the inner networks of cosmopolitan Ottoman Greek bourgeois and later to the family dynamic of socially mobile Greek immigrants in America. It was during her experiences in Istanbul where Emily felt the longing to “have [her] own home, [her] own linens on the bed, on the table” (1987:181). America, where she “will[ed] to go” (181) seemed the land that promised to deliver this yearning.

As an immigrant, Emily experienced the gendered constraints of Greek patriarchy and the ethnic oppression inflicted by American nativism. This dual domination was brought to consciousness, when she attended a segregated movie theater during her initial courtship with Yioryis, her future husband:

"Emilia also noticed that Americans sat on the main floor, the xeni [foreigners] in the balcony. She thought angrily of Sunday liturgy in the small, ugly Pocatello Greek church; the cloddish men who built it kept a peculiar old village custom: women and children looked on from the balcony" (1987:230)

Yet migrancy is also associated with welcome cultural change, and upward socioeconomic mobility. Her metaphorical and actual journey away from rural culture took yet another turn through her experience of new kinds of intra-cultural zones. Cosmopolitan, former wealthy refugees who fled Istanbul and Asia Minor after the 1922 Greek Turkish war, introduced Emily to sentimental love songs and internationally famous movie stars. Kilarney Reynold taught Emily to cook American dishes. Yioryis’s economic success earned the family a move to wealthy suburbs. In this manner, the distance between the immigrants and “white” middle class America was shortened. Emily, her hair fashionably cut short and looking “almost American,” now feels home as a member of the Ladies Guild whose

"members were the ‘good’ women of the town, tidily dressed, easily distinguishable from the immigrant women, the poor Americans, and the wives of doctors, dentists, and the newspaper editor who had nothing to do with the other three groups" (1987:43).

Emily appears to be moving past her social and economic marginalization when she fulfills her life-long yearning for a home of her own. Acquiring a home in Helper, where “doctors, attorneys, and businessmen lived” resolves her life’s tension between the necessity for movement and the persistent longing for a domestic center. She has “migrated” from the position of an outsider to a coveted space of “white” middle-class respectability.

"She sat for many minutes overwhelmed with relief: they were now proper people. At last she had her own home. She has come to America for it and now she had it" (1987:294).

America rewards the family’s hard work and entrepreneurialism with mobility and relative acceptance. The narrative legitimizes the ideology of the American Dream for the immigrant who now occupies a nascent place in the space of “whiteness.” The inevitable focus of the biography in a single immigrant family that happened to experience mobility, however, should not lead to the conclusion that graduation to the suburbs was naturally shared among all southeastern European immigrants. The record is relatively silent about families who did not make it in the middle-class. Did the Greek immigrant participation in the labor movements at the time preclude access to the American Dream? Did immigrant political commitment to combat exploitation interfere with the quest for a stable home? We have no specific knowledge, also, about alternative social spaces where Greek immigrant women could have sustained dialogues across racial and class boundaries. How did marginalized immigrant pioneers felt towards oppressed women of color? Where there any contexts where they closed ranks against racism? Clearly, further excavations of the archive are necessary to produce biographies and histories of working class immigrant families, and inter-racial solidarities.

For Papanikolas, the movement of the immigrants to the suburbs is emblematic of a larger process of assimilation. She identifies the pattern of immigrant integration though the specifics and unevenness of this process – the ambiguities of acculturation, the cultural betweeness of the immigrants, the multiplicity of identities, the relationship between class and assimilation – do not command, with some exceptions, center stage in her historical analysis. Instead, she emphasizes the weakening of the cultural gap between the newcomers and the locals, and cultural forgetting. Though she insightfully recognizes that often immigrants and their children felt it was necessary to hide their differences from the mainstream, she does not pursue this point in any detail. In her account, immigrant sub-urbanization leads to an ultimate displacement of tradition. Increasing rates of intermarriage further indicate the increasing mainstream acceptance of the daughters and sons of immigrants. Residential segregation and the insularity of the immigrant home become a thing of the past. While the immigrant past casts its shadow on the Greek-American present – a theme that Papanikolas repeatedly returns to in her fictional work – it is superceded as Greek immigrants are integrated into the mainstream as assimilated American ethnics.

Ultimately, Papanikolas follows closely the paradigm of American ethnic studies. In her account, the nation is seen as an integrative redemptive space. Despite the multiplicity of class hierarchies embedded in early twentieth century American modernity – and therefore the plurality of histories within an “ethnic group” – she adopts the single focus of the omnipresent subject-historian. “We children of immigrants who have visited our parents’ villages are profoundly grateful that America’s industrialization, and more specifically Utah’s, drew them,” she writes. “Otherwise our lives would have been poor indeed” (1975:124). Here, industrialization fosters the narrative of uniform progress from poverty to prosperity. This claim assumes the invariable economic success of all wage-earner immigrant laborers, and inevitably directs attention away from immigrant lives that did not translate into prosperity under conditions of industrial capitalism.

Papanikolas largely subscribes to the linear assimilation of immigrants. For her, the Western frontier – metaphorically understood as a place that sustains multiple cultural affiliations – is closed for immigrant Greek America. Holding the modernist understanding of culture as a whole – a view shared by great many professional anthropologists and folklorists at the time of her writing in the 1960s and 1970s – she maintains that immigrant beliefs and values can be lost in their entirety. It is this assumptions that informs her strong assertion that “assimilation is now complete in Carbon Country” (1981:100). This claim attaches credence to scholarly work that makes a case for the frontier as a space for creative bicultural expressions among racial minorities, but a mono-cultural zone for southeastern immigrants, who are seen as assimilated “white” ethnics (Lape, 2000). But persisting ambiguities embedded in the assimilation process advise against this totalizing claim. It is appropriate in this respect to follow the narrative thread in Emily’s biography, to an instance when she extends hospitality to the members of the Ladies Guild. In what follows, a social rite of passage meant to bring into closure Emily’s liminality in the multicultural borderlands of the region, reveals that assimilation cannot be a linear process:

"She served the women American dishes: salmon loaf with peas in cream sauce, chicken croquettes with potatoes au gratin, chicken a la king, Waldorf salads, pies of all kinds, strawberry shortcake, and caramel custard, exquisitely shimmering on the plane with a Nabisco biscuit. ‘You just serve too much food,’ a salesman’s wife said after she had eaten heartily, and my mother rubbed her hands together and looked liked [sic] a chastened child" (43).

Emily is caught between cultural practices, performing her knowledge of American cuisine but also adhering to the imperative of Greek hospitality, generous offering. In this instance, she is between cultures, neither wholly American, nor fully Greek. Chastised for her social faux pas she is culturally de-centered, made to realize that inclusion demands full assimilation. Her rite of passage from an immigrant outsider to a “white” middle-class is not complete, producing complex figures of difference and identity. Willing to assimilate in different subject positions, Emily deploys syncretic cultural codes that do not – in fact cannot – fit in any cultural zone demanding the uniformity of cultural authenticity. The movement of the immigrants to the suburbs does not translate into total cultural loss. More realistically, Emily operates in an uneven cultural terrain where engagement with tradition entails a context-specific dynamic process where custom is embraced, negotiated, or rejected. Astonishingly versatile, Emily crosses cultural boundaries as she also selectively participates in tradition. Neither fully Americanized, nor an absolute traditionalist she will keep oscillating between cultures well into her old age; this betweeness of an individual challenges the notion of immigrant Greek America as a closed cultural frontier.

Helen Papanikolas is aware, of course, that in multicultural America, sites of cultural remembering, attachment, and performance have not disappeared (2002). The divisive contact zones of the frontier have now been reconfigured to integrationist sites encouraged by liberal multiculturalism – the ethnic festival, the immigrant museum, the university classroom where ethnicity is taught, the ethnic blockbuster film, Public Television documentaries, and intermarriage, among others. Out of what kind of cultural sediments and transmutations did this cultural revitalization take place? What transpired between the era when nativism and assimilationism reigned supremely, to the current moment when multitude differences vie for our attention? What kinds of transformations took places within families, institutions, and the larger society during this span? Her recent book, “An Amulet of Greek Earth” (2002), makes a gesture toward this direction. There, she maps the “racial odyssey” – to use Jacobson’s (1998) apt phrase – of Greek immigrants, and documents, albeit in broad contours, their racial transformation from the maligned “non-white” immigrants into today’s “white” ethnics who are celebrated by liberal multiculturalism. Clearly, the notion of an open frontier is crucial to enable the close investigation of these changes historically and to avoid the reductive notion that while a culture was “lost” in the 1940s, it was somehow resurrected ex nihilio during post-civil rights multiculturalism. But it will be a mistake, I think, to criticize Helen Papanikolas for working with what today are considered ill-founded anthropological assumptions of culture. Her work is the product of intellectual currents, ideologies, and the prevalent political constraints of her times. To dismiss her work on the grounds of its integrationist assumptions inevitably leads to the logical equivalent of discarding any contemporary analysis founded on the value of diversity, an assumption that is taken for granted today. I suggest instead, that contemporary scholars of Greek America will benefit from a critical reading of the politics of her work, particularly her unprecedented success for the time in turning “Greek America” a legitimate topic of academic research. This may provide much needed insights today to tackle the glaring neglect of Greek Americans from, indeed its “bleak under-representation” (Leontis, 1997:104), in mainstream anthropology, cultural, literary, film, and theater studies. It may offer a departure point to start mapping strategies to confront what is perhaps the least talked about academic inconsistency: In an academy fascinated with diversity, Greek America’s cultural visibility in the public sphere has been relegated in the academic margins.

Helen Papanikolas has written and publicly spoken on behalf of racial minorities. She has insisted in bringing to the public consciousness the notion that the relative socioeconomic success of various groups has been determined to a large extent by their relative proximity or distance from phenotypical “whiteness.” Her scholarly work and public lectures do not neglect to document the racial oppression of minorities such as native American Indians, African Americans, Mexican, and Asian Americans which were excluded – in relative degrees – from the privileges of “whiteness.” There is a political import in this position because it recognizes that it has been structural constraints, not simply cultural values that determine upward mobility. “The roots of discrimination were in color and physiognomy,” she writes. ‘The darker the skin or the more distinctive the features, the greater the prejudice” (1995a:244). In her critique of “up by their own bootstraps” ideology of ethnic success, Papanikolas anticipates the emphasis current “whiteness” studies place on race as a structuring principle of social hierarchies.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Immigrant Women in the Work of Helen Papanikolas (II)

Women’s Culture and the Ethic of Empathy

Papanikolas’s work features women as active political participants in the labor conflicts of early twentieth century industrial Intermountain West. Women entered the contact zones of labor strife in solidarity to their laborer husbands, often leading the protests in defiance of danger. The confrontational tactics were diverse, ranging from direct assault to symbolic insult. In a “National Miners Union” protest women openly confronted deputies and threw pepper in their eyes in order to prevent the chasing of male strikers. In the aftermath of the clash, and while visiting their imprisoned husbands, “several women shocked the deputies by exposing their breasts and offering ‘suck to make humans’ of them–an old Slavic act of hostility” (1973:282). Subjected to the power of the state, immigrant women resisted their everyday symbolic and ideological defiance. Ideological commitments did not compromise women’s humanity. Papanikolas discusses an incident when a Serbian immigrant woman intervened in volatile contact zones against mob mentality. Mrs. Mike Dragos, an active participant in the 1933 Carbon County Coal Strike, capitalized on her moral authority as a fearless woman – “the only basis for respect given [to] a woman by rural Slav men” (1973:285) – and averted the lynching of her ideological enemy, Sheriff Bliss, by a worker’s mob.

In addition to addressing women’s active political participation in class wars, Papanikolas also situates women in a different kind spheres of exchanges, one defined by an ethos of humanitarian care. In her work, women transcend difference and bond on the basis of their common humanity and shared experiences. Poverty, loss of family members, childbirth, and the raising of children work as centripetal force that forge temporary or permanent inter-ethnic solidarity. Such a humanistic ethos occurs cross-culturally. When a pioneer Greek immigrant went into labor, for example, “the Italian, Yugoslav, and Mexican women rushed to help her. They could not speak to each other in a common language, but they knew what was to be done” (1989:23). In another instance, the wife of Dr. Claude McDermid, an Irish Catholic, “is remembered as a humanitarian. She brought food and clothing to [immigrant] mining families in the days before unionization and before welfare” (1981:93). Throughout Papanikolas’s work, empathy for the disenfranchised becomes a socially valued ethos.

In a socio-economic order where relations of domination and exploitation were prevalent, Papanikolas shows that women created alternative social spaces based on the ethic of empathy and care. While a narrative thread of early twentieth century American modernity in early twentieth century hierarchized immigrant groups, often relegating immigrants to a subhuman status, women formed cross-cultural relations on the basis of their common humanity. If capitalism sustained circuits of exploitation, women nurtured networks of collaboration. If racism bred animosity, women sustained an ethic of care. In her work, women connect exhibit an extraordinary capacity to connect, and transcend differences. In Emily-George, for example, Papanikolas explains how her mother’s profound empathy for human suffering and poverty translated to an ethic of giving. Emilia, an avid reader, “bought from every bookseller who came to the door,” and never turned down a transient’s request for a handout. “Both transients and booksellers knocked on our doors, the booksellers at the front, the transients at the back. To be hungry was the worst of calamities for my mother and transients begged her to hurry as freight trains chugged out of the railyards” (1995:5).

Papanikolas expanded on women’s culture of empathy in “Magerou, the Greek Midwife” (1970), an essay which folklorist Notariani characterized as “probably the earliest account of the life of an ethnic woman in Utah” (2003). For this work, Papanikolas collected oral testimonies to piece together a biography of Georgia Latherou Magerou (1867-1950), an immigrant woman legendary for her skills as a folk healer, midwife, and matchmaker. Attentive to the social contexts in which Magerou applied her folk expertise, Papanikolas portrays many facets of Magerou’s life. In doing so, she complicates a number of her early assumptions of immigrant tradition as a total way of life (Anagnostou 2003). First, the fact that Magerou’s household observed two religious traditions, Greek Orthodox and Catholic (Magerou’s husband was Croatian) illustrates that different traditions can coexist and accommodate each other. Secondly, we learn that Magerou gradually adopted a number of modern medical practices to supplement her traditional curing methods, showing that individuals do not blindly follow tradition but venture outside of it to adopt selectively alternative practices that work well for their purposes. Furthermore, the essay demonstrates that the abandonment of tradition does not necessarily mean its total rejection. Specific social and political circumstances can lead individuals to revitalize a tradition they had previously renounced. For example, many immigrant women returned to their traditional midwife, Magerou, when they were confronted with the fearful possibility that their doctors were members of the Klan. Here, the return to tradition ensures some measure of confidence among members of a despised ethnic group.

The essay on Magerou reverses the common view of tradition as an inferior system to modernity. In an era when company doctors in industrial labor camps were all too quick to amputate the legs of injured laborers, Magerou’s folk medical practices offered a humane alternative. She has been credited for saving the legs of two individuals when modern medicine offered no hope for treatment. This demonstrates that tradition could at times offer a more compassionate approach to human problems. Leg amputation meant the economic and social ruin of the immigrants and their families, yet it was often the method of “choice” because it was cost-effective. “Amputations were hastily performed” and immigrants “felt they were coldly treated, like animals, not human beings” (1996:163). In an era of unregulated capitalism sanctioning quick and inexpensive medical “solutions” in response to industrial accidents, the immigrants were subjected to a violent aspect of modernity. In this instance, traditions that were disparaged by modernity offered a humane, superior alternative.

Helen Papanikolas makes Magerou the symbol “of the color and uniqueness of Greek immigrant life” (1996:169). The representation of Magerou subverts stereotypes, humanizing immigrants as complex and multidimensional human beings. Her portrayal challenges misconceptions about the folk. Disparaged as backward, hated as inferior, and scorned as disposable labor, men and women immigrants possessed human qualities that were not recognized at the time. Even presently, they are not included in generalized histories of immigration, and they are often missing in ethnic narratives about early immigration. The portrait of Magerou helps restore the humanity of the immigrants, by emphasizing the immigrants’ profound capacity of empathy toward other human beings.

Magerou’s compassion for others extended beyond her professional dedication as a committed folk healer. Once “she spent four months with one Nevada family whose mother had died” (1996:167). Greek culture sanctions this kind of behavior and even has a specific term to connote it, psychika. ‘These were called psychika, acts of mercy that were good for one’s soul. Her [Magherou’s] life was a litany of psychika” (Papanikolas, 1989:22). Magherou was not the only one demonstrating such an uncompromising humanity. In Carbon County, where there was no midwife, another individual, Mrs. Haralambos (Angheliki) Koulouris, “selflessly and without pay cared for newborn babies and their mothers” (1971:77). Yet another immigrant woman, Yiannina, also stands out in Papanikolas’ folkloric writings, for her profound capacity to help others:

No child went without shoes or food if she knew about it and it did not matter if they were the children of immigrants or Americans. People remembered that she could set out with Uncle John’s bootleg money in her purse to buy her sons clothing; it was gone by the time she reached town. On the way she saw a child with worn-out overalls, another with ripped off shoe soles. When Christ Jouflas, future mayor of Helper, was orphaned, she raised him along with her eight children until his father married again (1981:86).

Women’s culture of empathy and mutual aid provided an alternative to the profit-based corporate ethic of the industrial frontier. Yet, a closer look at Papanikolas’s observations brings to our attention the limits in the political and social effectiveness of empathy. In the long term, women’s informal networks of mutual help could pose no serious threat to the capitalist logic of development. Translated into practice, this logic effects immigrant displacement. A resigned melancholy overtakes the ethnohistorian who records the effects of this phenomenon:

With people such as these [Ada Duhigg], with the vigorous life of which they were a part, and in the narrow, protected canyon that gave security, the immigrants found their new-world home. Their exodus in the early 1960’s, made necessary by the needs of the copper industry to expand their operations into the canyon, was their second uprooting. To leave their town was as hard for them as leaving of their native lands when they were young (1965:314).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Immigrant Women in the Work of Helen Papanikolas (I)

Pioneer Immigrant Women (early 20th century) as Double Minorities

Helen Papanikolas’s writing documents the experiences of pioneer immigrant women in terms of dramatic psychological and cultural dislocation. These women nurse scarred internal landscapes caused by patriarchy, nativism, and loneliness. Spatially and psychologically constrained, early immigrant women inhabit zones of gendered class and ethnic oppression. Confronted with the new conditions in migrancy, immigrant women struggle with issues of isolation, spatial restrain, and social marginality. Isolation was most acutely felt in remote homesteads and in male dominated immigrant colonies. Cut from their supporting social and familial networks in their homeland, women were often brought to the brink of psychological collapse. As Papanikolas observes, this was common in the context of homestead economy:

"Before his railroad and building days, [Joe Bonacci] farmed near Wellington where his third wife raised a large family in complete isolation. He was often gone days at a time to sell his produce in Price and in mining camps. His wife’s reminiscences of her profound loneliness resemble those of pioneer women in the Midwest on homesteads fifty wagon miles apart who often succumbed to mental illness. Josephine Bonacci was eventually saved, not by her pleadings but by admonitions of her husband’s friends that his wife and daughters could be vulnerable during his absences to passing cowboys and sheepherders” (Papanikolas, 1981:87).

Here, the homestead functions as an anti-contact zone of despairing solitude for women. Adding up to geographical isolation, a gendered economy which regulated women to a “cult of domesticity” (Scourby, 2003:36) socially marginalizes women. Patriarchy pushes women to psychological limits and averts their complete destruction only when male honor is at stake. In this respect, the homestead is also a sexually threatening contact zone. Women’s feelings are ignored. Males intervene to redress the effects of female involuntary seclusion only in response to social sanctions of male masculinity.

Confronted by extreme loneliness, women often felt propelled to create their own spheres of interaction. The recollection of Thelma Siouris, a pioneer Greek immigrant woman, dramatically drives this point home:

"I was the only Greek woman in the railroad town. I was so lonely, I baked cookies and sat on the porch waiting for the school children to come by. I had them sit and eat the cookies and didn’t understand what they were saying, but at least I heard the sound of human voices" (cited in Papanikolas, 1989:30).

Greek patriarchy also sought to regulate the range of contacts for American-born daughters. Repatriated under the new conditions of migrancy, patriarchy intensified when immigrant fathers sought to constrain the social field of interaction for their daughters. The absence of communal surveillance – that enforced traditional gender ideologies in the homeland – rendered the domestic sphere as a crucial site to enforce the domination of women in the New World. A charismatic folk healer, for instance, turned into an “autocratic” tyrant when it came to enforcing traditional codes of honor.

"When her oldest daughters entered their teen years, the young Greek laborers coming home from the mill saw fit to pass Magherou’s house, hoping for a glimpse of them. Their father painted the window gray, so that the young men could not look in and his daughters could not look out" (1989:22).

The possibility of breaking away from regimes of control in diaspora is canceled by enforcing patriarchal ideologies through new means of spatial confinement. The patriarch redraws the borders of vision, recreating an environment of spatial confinement aimed to control desire, the possibility of being able to imagine a world beyond the confines of the immigrant household. In this case, the reterritorialized social order of the Old World spatially imprisons the American-born. Literally and metaphorically, immigrant traditions demarcate the domain of vision, what can be seen, and how not to be seen, in the gendered spaces of Greek America.

Yet immigrant Greek America is not represented as a homogeneous social space. Not all households were or remained hermetically sealed. Immigrant daughters demanded and claimed their own spaces. Transformations in Post World War II American society allowed them to venture beyond the immigrant world into the work place, the University and inter-ethnic marriage. Papanikolas claims that the American West, more than elsewhere, enabled Greek immigrant daughters to transcend the restrictions imposed on them by tradition.

"Although there were instances of extreme oppression of daughters, they had more freedom than those in urban centers in the East and Midwest. They drove cars, worked outside the home, could, usually refuse marriage proposals, and groups of them took vacations together. As they grew older, they dropped more constraints" (34).

Papanikolas’s non-fictional work does not elaborate on this exceptionalism. Neither does it explore in detail her claim that immigrant women redefined America from a place of exile to a site of attachment as home. Her ethnohistoric work teases a number of questions. How did immigrant women of diverse social class and educational background negotiate the experience of migration? What aspects of Greek culture did immigrant women thought worth retaining? How did immigrant daughters confront the experience of cultural betweeness? What were their strategies in defying oppression? What were their views of America? Papanikolas pursued some of these questions in her fiction and to some extent family biography. Her non-fictional contribution to women’s studies rests in her documentation of early immigrant women’s perspectives, and the social and political significance of the networks they built.
To be continued

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora Vol. 36 (1-2), 2010


7“The Cinematic Gaze in Early Greek Cinema (1905-1945),” by Vrasidas Karalis
45“Demythologizing Greek American Families,” by Anna Karpathakis and Dan Georgakas
63“Greek Anti-Americanism and Its Implications for the Relations Between Greece and the Hellenic Diaspora in the United States,” by Yannis A. Stivachtis
99“The Greek Case: The Truman Doctrine and British Manipulation of the United States,” by Spero S.Z. Paravantes
129“Caught in the Meshes of Betrayal: The Fiction of Kostas Kotzias and the Unnamable Leader,” by Thomas Doulis
145“Kevin Andrews—An Appraisal,” by Anthony Papalas
163“Review: The Open Hearth: The First Generation: A Novel of Immigration: Thomas Doulis,” reviewed by Anastasia Stefanidou
167“Review: The Pure Lover: David Plante,” reviewed by Alfred Corn
170“Review: Passion Maps: Adrianne Kalfopoulou,” reviewed by Hilary Sideris

Friday, March 4, 2011

Songs of Xenitia From the Other Side

Υπεραστικοί - Νερό & Αλάτι - Ενα τραγούδι για τους 300 μετανάστες εργάτες απεργούς πείνας. Water & Salt - A song for 300 immigrants hunger strikers in Greece.

«...Για τους δικούς σου, από την ώρα που φεύγεις μετανάστης είσαι ήδη σαν νεκρός, στρώνουν κάθε βράδυ τραπέζι κι εσύ λείπεις. Τους είπα να με κλάψουν 40 μέρες, κι αυτό ήταν. Κι εμείς αν πεθάνουμε, θα κοιμόμαστε για πάντα ήσυχοι. Όμως, αυτοί που δε μας δίνουν μια σφραγίδα δε θα κοιμούνται ήσυχοι ποτέ. Θέλω να πω και μια κουβέντα στους Έλληνες φίλους που έκανα: μπήκατε στην καρδιά μου. Ζήσαμε ευτυχισμένοι. Και σε όλους αυτούς που μας φέρθηκαν άσχημα, μας έφαγαν λεφτά: σας τα χαρίζω, σαν να μην έχει γίνει τίποτα. Αντίο σας». Χασάν.
Ένας από τους 300 εργάτες μετανάστες απεργούς πείνας.

Νερό κι αλάτι

Σαράντα μέρες κλάψε με πατέρα,
ρημάξανε τον τόπο μας, θα φύγω.
Ανθρώπινη ζωή θα πάω να χτίσω,
τους φράχτες και τις νάρκες θ' αψηφήσω.
Στη φτώχεια που γεννήθηκα η ανάγκη με παιδεύει.
Αδιέξοδες οι μέρες μου κι οι νύχτες μου συντρίμμια.

Δουλέμποροι σταθήκανε μπροστά μου,
σε μαύρα σαπιοκάραβα με ρίξαν.
Με φόρτωμα της γης τους κολασμένους
στα άγρια τα πελάγη ξανοιχτήκαν.
Στο κύμα που λυσσομανά η ανάσα μας κομμένη,
να κρέμεται απ' το βλέμμα μας μια τόση δα ελπίδα.

Σε τούτα εδώ τα χώματα που ήρθα,
στ' αμπέλια, στις ελιές, μέσα στους κάμπους
αβγάτιζα το βιος του αφεντικού μου,
φωνή δεν είχα, μαύρη η δουλειά μου.
Κλεισμένος σ' εργοτάξια, θαμμένος σε υπόγεια,
να τρέφονται απ' τη σάρκα μου αχόρταγα θηρία.

Νερό κι αλάτι, 300 βράχοι
και λίγοι κόκκοι ζάχαρης, πριν με μετρήσει η ζυγαριά να αργοσβήνω, πολεμώντας.

Ο ιδρώτας μου κυλούσε μες στις πόλεις,
σε δρόμους, εργοστάσια, ναυπηγεία.
Τα χέρια μου πληγιάζαν στους χειμώνες
που μάτωνα για ξένα μεγαλεία.
Και στήριγμα στους γέροντες που απόβλητοι σωπαίναν.
Στο άδειο προσκεφάλι τους μια στάλα από φροντίδα.

Αυτοί που νόμιμα μ' απομυζούσαν
λαθραία ονομάσαν τη ζωή μου,
να ιδρώνω, να κοπιάζω, να παράγω,
μα δίκιο να μη βρίσκω στο κελί μου.
Και τρέμω τα τσιράκια τους που με παραφυλάνε.
Γυρεύω τα αδέρφια μου, τους ντόπιους τους εργάτες.

Νερό κι αλάτι, 300 βράχοι
και λίγοι κόκκοι ζάχαρης, πριν με μετρήσει η ζυγαριά να αργοσβήνω, πολεμώντας.

Ο θάνατος πια δε θα με τρομάξει,
πεθαίνω τώρα πλάι σε συντρόφους.
Πατρίδα μου είναι η σφιχτή γροθιά μου
κι ο αγώνας για της τάξης μου τα δίκια.
Ζωή να χτίσω πάλεψα κι αυτοί με πολεμάνε.
Αυτοί που όλο το μόχθο μας δικό τους τον κρατάνε.

Νερό κι αλάτι, 300 βράχοι
και λίγοι κόκκοι ζάχαρης, πριν με μετρήσει η ζυγαριά να αργοσβήνω, πολεμώντας.

Αντίο σας.

Αμπντούλ, Νορντίν, Αχμέντ, Χαμίντ, Χασάν. Εργάτη μετανάστη αδερφέ μου.

Οι Υπεραστικοί συμμετέχουν στην συλλογικότητα εργαζομένων καλλιτεχνών "Τέχνη εν Κινήσει"