And Our 12 Points Go To…

eurovisionvotingLike Wimbledon, I watch the Eurovision finals each year — we started doing it a few years ago. I was in Greece during the finals back in 2009 (“This is our night!”) and, since then, have gotten a kick out of the finals, especially the hour long voting ritual once all the songs have been performed, when local hosts, presumably from each country’s own telecast, “call” into the host city to reveal who their country voted for. That the awkward time delays in almost all of these reports makes it seem like a 1970s interview from halfway around the world, coupled with the fact that each country’s local host presumably wants to get as much as they can from their 30 seconds on air with the estimated 180 million viewers worldwide, while the event’s hosts back at the venue squirm on-air because they just want to hear their votes so they can speed things along, makes it all the better. Continue reading “And Our 12 Points Go To…”

Subtle Strategies

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 9.48.44 AMWhile I was searching the web for tradition-related articles, I came across this news story written by John Laughland (a British civil engineer) who submitted an article to a Greek e-newspaper—“protothemanews.com”—entitled “Kayakoy: Death by Restoration.” The title immediately caught my attention, given my own interest in how we use the term tradition, restorations, and the like. He and his German wife Beatrice have lived in Turkey for the last 26 years near an abandoned village known as Kayakoy, located at the south side of Asia Minor, and it is said that its Greek residents abandoned it after the 1920s population exchange between the two countries (i.e., Turkey and Greece). Continue reading “Subtle Strategies”

The Mighty Hercules

herculesSeeing Vaia Touna‘s recent post, on the creation of her own Greek identity, made me think about my own knowledge of Greece.

I was born in 1961, the youngest of four (the oldest of whom was born immediately after the end of Word War II), so that puts me at the tail end of the so-called baby boom. Television predated me, of course, but I was a member of the first generation weaned on it; so there’s a good chance that it was on television, and specifically in cartoons, where people like me came across the things that later turned out to be so much more complicated. Continue reading “The Mighty Hercules”

Who Are You? I’m Greek

VWho Are You?” asks members of Culture on the Edge to reflect
on one of their own many identities (whether national, gendered,
racial, familial, etc.), theorizing at the same time the self-
identification that they each chose to discuss.

Although we all have many identities my national identity is what comes first in mind especially now that I’m away from Greece. I suppose when you are asked to remember the first time you realized you were of a certain nationality is not that easy. I’m Greek! I was born in Athens and grew up in Thessaloniki and it sure fills me with pride when I’m asked to show around and talk about my ancient Greek heritage, which I see is of great interest to my North American friends and not only. Of course this pride has its ups and downs, especially when I’m asked about the current politico-economic situation in Greece…. Anyways! Continue reading “Who Are You? I’m Greek”

Open Secret

secretOn the way back from walking my dog this morning I caught the end of a radio story on the new documentary, “Open Secret”, which premiers tonight on Al Jazeera America. Seen the trailer?

Everyone but him seems to have known who his real mother was… So it got me thinking once again about how secrets work as identification practices — something that considerably presses the folk understanding of privacy as being, well, private. Continue reading “Open Secret”

Using Four-Lettered Words: Part One

edgedavinci1

“What Justice Kennedy has undertaken in this initial statement of fact, or more properly, of data, that is to say, facts accepted for purposes of the argument…”

–  Jonathan Z. Smith, “God Save This Honourable Court” (Relating Religion, p. 382)

While she was on our campus a few weeks ago, I noticed Monica Miller using the word “data” to refer to the things that she studied — things such as African American religion, scholars of African American religion, rap lyrics, and rap artists — and so I asked her a question or two about what she thought was entailed in that word and why she seemingly opted for it rather purposefully in both her public lecture, the evening before, and then during an informal lunchtime discussion with our students the next day. And then, just the other day, Leslie Smith posted on this site, using this four-lettered word in her post’s title — a use that did not go unnoticed by some on Facebook who soon were debating what was termed the dehumanizing effects of such objectifying terminology. Continue reading “Using Four-Lettered Words: Part One”

Searching for Chimaeras

zeusA few months ago while I was hosting Andie Alexander for a week or so in Thessaloniki, Greece, I decided that among our daytrips should be a visit to Mt Olympus (a destination that is, I know, among the highlights of anyone who visits Greece—that and the Parthenon in Athens, of course). So one day we took the highway south, towards Athens, and about 2 hours drive from Thessaloniki we reached the slopes of the mountain, which myth has it was the home of the “Twelve Gods” of the ancient Greeks. Over bumpy roads and narrow passages that made for a thrilling experience, we drove up the mountain to a refuge (a youth hostel with coffee service), which was at 1000 metres height above sea level and about 2000 metres below the top of the mountain, surrounded by thick vegetation and a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea and the Gulf of Thessaloniki. Continue reading “Searching for Chimaeras”