by Akis Gavriilidis
Seferis’s poem “Leoforos Syngrou II” has received little critical attention.
Works outside the canon often prove a useful lens for an author’s practice.
This is also the case with this poem, which directly refers to a colonial and racial problematic. Seferis, both as an object of mainstream scholarship and as an icon of Greek pop culture during the last half of the 20th century, has been mainly seen as a champion of “Greekness” –construed as the solitary course of a unique nation through various vicissitudes. The author himself encouraged such a reading. In his work, however, we find evidence that Seferis was attentive to elements undermining this uniqueness, shifting attention to links, cleavages and hierarchizations within both Hellenism and humanity at large. This makes Greekness appear as a product of, and as an instrument for the production of, knowledge about and classification of individuals and ethnic groups, including self-knowledge and self-classification, as well as a technology for profiling and variously claiming and/ or attributing rights to those groups. Our understanding of Seferis’s Hellenism would be incomplete without its colonial and racial dimension.
by Akis Gavriilidis
Having lived in Thessaloniki around 1990, I personally witnessed the «our-name-is-our-soul» frenzy that emerged out of the blue in that city and its surroundings and became the starting point for the series of tragicomic events we all know. As most people, I was surprised by this eruption of heated interest for history, geopolitics, ethnology, and a number of other disciplines, for which I was totally unprepared. Listening to all these people who, with the air and the conviction of a specialist, repeated incessantly a set of newly discovered «scientific truths», I felt uneasy, but also puzzled, because these «truths» concerned a period and a topic I had no deep knowledge about. Instinctively, I felt there was something wrong with these discourses, but was not quite sure what a valid counter-argument would be.
At that time of confusion, when Greek newspapers were sweepingly stormed by a repetitive wave of “experts” providing “evidence” that “the name Macedonia was never used to describe a language and a people before 1944, this use is arbitrary and artificial,” one day, in a small leftist newspaper, Epokhì, an article appeared which contained some Read More
What follows is an excerpt from a letter sent by N. Foundoùlis, Greek consul at Sérres, to K. Paparrigòpulos, in the 19th of July 1884. The letter is published in: Spyros Karàvas, «Μakàrioi oi katékhondes tin gìn». Gaioktitikoì skhediasmoì pros apallotrìosin syneidìseon sti Makedonìa, 1880-1909 [«Blessed are those who possess the earth [or: «the land»]. Real estate planning in view of alienating consciousness in Macedonia, 1880-1909], Athens, Vivliorama, 2010, p. 124-5. English translation: Akis Gavriilidis.
It produces to me a horrendous impression and sadness, when on the one hand these people, being boorish peasants until yesterday and before that, and seen as pariahs by our people, now call themselves “Bulgarians” and boldly point with their finger to the Bulgarian hegemony, and, on the other hand, the majority of the inhabitants of our own Greek villages do show to a certain extent love for the Greek letters, but unfortunately are far from calling themselves Greeks in full awareness, as the Bulgarians do, and when one asks them who they are, or of which nationality or origin, in this question they answer “we are Christians”. The name “Greek”, or even “Romios”, Read More
by Akis Gavriilidis
In an interview to the Macedonian Television in February 2011, the British diplomat Robin O’Neil declared:
“The Greece-Macedonia name row is the most bizarre diplomatic dispute in Europe today. No one outside of Greece can perceive why should Macedonia change its name. What is Greece’s national interest in doing this? Greece has not suffered in any way as a result of Macedonia’s existence under the current name in the past 20 years, and Greece never opposed Macedonia’s existence as part of SFR Yugoslavia».
He also said that “the consistent Greek opposition to Macedonia’s NATO and EU accession is especially difficult to understand” (ibid.).
O’Neil here states the obvious as regards diplomatic practice and international relations, but what he says is also valid epistemologically. I think that his statement is a very useful way to start a treatment of the issue from a political theory point of view as well: in fact, if diplomats had a hard time to figure out what Greece is trying to achieve or to avoid by its reaction, social theorists did not do much better up to Read More