Re-articulating the ethnos: language, blood, and belonging in Athens
Heath Cabot (University of Pittsburgh)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores changing conceptions of language, blood, and nationhood in contemporary Athens, which has become increasingly epicenter in the movements of migrants in Europe..
Paper long abstract:
In Athens, the urban center of the Modern Greek nation-state, language has long been embedded in racialization processes. Projects of linguistic "purification" accompanied manipulations of urban space and forms of ethnic cleansing aimed at extracting the Hellenic from "Oriental" and Ottoman influences. The Greek language often continues to trace the body of the ethnos, demarcating assumed phenotypic boundaries, marking persons as recognizably (non)Greek. However, as Athens has become increasingly an epicenter for migrants, multilingual encounters are shifting the relationship between language and nationhood. Drawing on my ethnographic fieldwork among an extraordinarily diverse friendship and family network, I consider how lacunae in communicative practices across linguistic worlds incite creative expressions of intimacy and kinship practices, reconfiguring conceptions of blood and belonging. This paper, thus, approaches national citizenships not through frameworks of "closure" or exclusion (Balibar 1998; see also Gilroy 1987, Stolcke 1995), nor through transgressions or "fragments" (Chatterjee 1993), but through powerful, if fraught, points of opening through which nations are articulated anew.
One face, one race? Rethinking race and citizenship in a changing Europe