The boys and men who left their Greek valley and mountain villages in the early 1900s for America came with amulets their mothers had made for them. Some were miniature sacks attached to a necklace; more often they were merely a square of fabric enclosing the values of their lives: a piece of a holy book or a sliver of the True Cross representing their belief in Greek Orthodoxy; a thyme leaf denoting their wild terrain; a blue bead to ward off the Evil Eye; and a pinch of Greek earth.
In her evocative and meticulously researched book An Amulet of Greek Earth, author Helen Papanikolas explains and examines the vibrant culture these immigrants brought with them to the new world. The Romiosini culture, as it was called, provided the foundation for their new lives and was oftentimes the cause of strife as they passed on their beliefs and traditions to successive generations of Greek Americans.
In the tradition of her fictional accounts of Greek immigrant life, Helen Papanikolas unearths the cultural beliefs and passions that compelled the Greek-American community to make its own way into the broader culture of America. Based on extensive study, personal interviews, and a lifetime of experience, An Amulet of Greek Earth is a revealing and informative chronicle of the immigrant’s experience in becoming an American.
In Contours of White Ethnicity, Yiorgos Anagnostou explores the construction of ethnic history and reveals how and why white ethnics selectively retain, rework, or reject their pasts. Challenging the tendency to portray Americans of European background as a uniform cultural category, the author demonstrates how a generalized view of American white ethnics misses the specific identity issues of particular groups as well as their internal differences.
Interdisciplinary in scope, Contours of White Ethnicity uses the example of Greek America to illustrate how the immigrant past can be used to combat racism and be used to bring about solidarity between white ethnics and racial minorities. Illuminating the importance of the past in the construction of ethnic identities today, Anagnostou presents the politics of evoking the past to create community, affirm identity, and nourish reconnection with ancestral roots, then identifies the struggles to neutralize oppressive pasts.
Although it draws from the scholarship on a specific ethnic group, Contours of White Ethnicity exhibits a sophisticated, interdisciplinary methodology, which makes it of particular interest to scholars researching ethnicity and race in the United States and for those charting the directions of future research for white ethnicities.
This book focuses on the return of the diasporic Greek second generation to Greece, primarily in the first decade of the twenty-first century, and their evolving, often ambivalent, senses of belonging and conceptualizations of “home.” Drawing from a large-scale research project employing a multi-sited and multi-method comparative approach, Counter-Diaspora is a narrative ethnographic account of the lives and identities of second-generation Greek-Americans and Greek-Germans. Through an interdisciplinary gender and generational lens, the study examines lived migration experiences at three diasporic moments: growing up within the Greek diasporic setting in the United States and Germany; motivations for the counter-diasporic return; and experiences in the “homeland” of Greece. Research documents and analyzes a range of feelings and experiences associated with this “counter-diasporic” return to the ancestral homeland.Images and imaginations of the “homeland” are discussed and deconstructed, along with notions of “Greekness” mediated through diasporic encounters. Using extensive extracts from interviews, the authors explore the roles of, among other things, family solidarity, kinship, food, language, and religion, as well as the impact of “home-coming” visits on the decision to return to the ancestral “homeland.” The book also contributes to a reconceptualization of diaspora and a problematization of the notion of “second generation.”
Echoes of the Great Catastrophe: Re-sounding Anatolian Greekness in Diaspora explores the legacy of the Great Catastrophe—the death and expulsion from Turkey of 1.5 million Greek Christians following the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922—through the music and dance practices of Greek refugees and their descendants over the last one hundred years. The book draws extensively on original ethnographic research conducted in Greece (on the island of Lesvos in particular) and in the Greater Boston area, as well as on the author’s lifetime immersion in the North American Greek diaspora. Through analysis of handwritten music manuscripts, homemade audio recordings, and contemporary live performances, the book traces the routes of repertoire and style over generations and back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean, investigating the ways that the particular musical traditions of the Anatolian Greek community have contributed to their understanding of their place in the global Greek diaspora and the wider post-Ottoman world. Alternating between fine-grained musicological analysis and engaging narrative prose, it fills a lacuna in scholarship on the transnational Greek experience.
The influence of Greek culture on Michigan began long before the first Greeks arrived. The American settlers of the Old Northwest Territory had definite notions of Greeks and Greek culture. America and its developing society and culture were to be the "New Athens," a locale where the resurgence in the values and ideals of classical Greece were to be reborn. Stavros K. Frangos describes how such preconceptions and the competing desires to retain heritage and to assimilate have shaped the Greek experience in Michigan. From the padrone system to the church communities, Greek institutions have both exploited and served Greek immigrants, and from scattered communities across the state to enclaves in Detroit, Greek immigrants have retained and celebrated Greek culture.
Three generations of the Demas family face the ups and downs of the twentieth century after their fathers leave the coal mines that drew them from Greece to America, become wool growers and small businessmen, and Americanize their Demopoulos name. As the years pass, the family accumulates untidy lives and tragedies. Parents seek to keep their children tightly bound by old-country customs, to arrange marriages, and to foist their views of women’s inferiority on their daughters. Lia Papastamos in particular, child of a forced marriage between her Greek father and Amerikanidha mother, pulls away from the stifling burden of family tradition and interference, but she and her husband must contend with the decline that time, synthetics, and changing tastes bring to a once-thriving sheep business.
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