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Politics

by Akis Gavriilidis

 

Abstract

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.

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by Akis Gavriilidis

 

Recently, while in Cyprus, I spoke to a doctoral student who had just returned from Athens, where, as he informed us, he had visited several events taking place there in the framework of the Documenta14 exhibition. Among these, as he said, a performance “in a building close to Omonia square”. After one or two questions, it came out that this performance was actually not part of Documenta, but a sort of a “counter-event” staged as a satire, under the title dokoùmena (ancient Greek for “things believed/ seen as”, a title which obviously parodies the name of the institution)[1]. Our friend apparently mistook it as being part of the official program.

But was this really a mistake? If so, in what sense?

Documenta consists in a series of artistic works shown during a certain period of time Read More

Akis Gavriilidis (interviewed by Boris Georgievski for the DW)

 

1.The Greek migration minister Yannis Mouzalas was asked to resign after calling the neighboring country «Macedonia». Why is it forbidden or unacceptable to use this name in Greece?

This is a very simple and justified question, but to answer it in a satisfactory way is an extremely complicated affair, believe me –if it is possible at all.
As is known, in the beginning the official line of explanation was that the use of this name is a “theft” of “Greek cultural heritage” and that it is a tool for “irredentist claims”. But, after so many years, I hope nobody seriously believes any more that some army is likely to invade Northern Greece and annex it to the Rep. of Macedonia.

My impression is that, whatever the initial causes have been, from a certain point on, Read More

by Akis Gavriilidis

Being in Greece the days during and after the last elections, and reading most of the comments written about them abroad, (but also some written within Greece), gives me a feeling of uncanniness, of a discrepancy; to the point that I wonder if these texts are really talking about the same event I have just experienced.

I guess this should come as no surprise, since the situation we are living is extremely multi-faceted and unprecedented, and the models we have at our disposal in order to conceive it and account for it are inadequate. So in this text I am not pretending to give «the real truth» or «the full image» as opposed to a «falsification»; I will just try to provide one additional vantage point from where to read this complexity.

In view of the outcome of the elections, many commentators seem to express a sense of despair for what they perceive as «a macabre affair, conducted in the funeral of Europe’s first radical Left government in a generation». Others, not willing to give up to pessimism, try to delve into the Read More

by Akis Gavriilidis

When it comes to describe and explain what SYRIZA stands for, in the discourse of mainstream media, analysts and politicians in the rest of Europe (occasionally in Greece as well), the term “populist” comes handy and figures prominently. The same epithet is also attached to Spain’s Podemos.

This description is of course a clear example of “how to do things with words”, since it “objectively” creates associations with such depreciatory labels as “nationalist/ anti-European”, even when these are not uttered. (A comparable, and more ambitious, re-signification effort has been lately undertaken, with success, concerning the term “radicalization”, which by now has been practically turned into a synonym of «adherence to Djihadism»).

To my knowledge, the most serious and interesting challenge to this linguistic politics has been the intervention of Yannis Stavrakakis, a political theorist formed in the tradition of the so called Essex school and a collaborator of Ernesto Laclau’s. For the past three or four years, Stavrakakis has been providing extensive and robust argumentation against the uni-dimensional stigmatizing use of “populism” and Read More

by Akis Gavriilidis

I. Introduction

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»[1].

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

Dimitris Papadopoulos, Vassilis Tsianos & Margarita Tsomou

Metropolitan blockade is when urban space turns against itself, blocks the movements and the connections that sustain it, only to mobilise space as a direct means for political action. Metropolitan blockades are today the chinks in the wall of established politics through which we can get a glimpse of the future. It was the blockade of Syntagma square in Athens in 2011, which gave birth to a new frame of time and space in Greek politics, where future was again at stake, where future took place instantly in the discourses and practices in people’s assemblies. The area of Syntagma square became a zone outside of representational political power and oligarchic democracy. From the perspective of established political power this turn of urban space against itself is conceived as process that creates Read More