Art,national identity,Politics,Postcolonialism

Emperor Ras Tafari in Piraeus: Seferis’s Colonial Anxieties

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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