Accepted Paper:

Chania as the new 'home': the transformation of local space into a transnational one  
Elia Vardaki (Technical University of Crete)

Paper short abstract:

I will focus on the Ethno-Cultural Festival organised by the Municipality of Chania, Crete. Two points will be raised, the first is the significance of transnational identity construction practices instead of multiculturalism or assimilation practices, while the second is the discursive aspect of locality. Through the presentation of the festival metaphors of locality, home and migrating will be discussed.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation is about "de-territorialisation" of locales and the role played by transnational communities to this end. I am interested in the way migrants use objects, foods and places to establish themselves in a place that it is more an imaginative "home" than a real one. Migration is not only about moving to places, but it is a cognitive experience with people engaged in physical and metaphorical movement in place and time. As Dawson and Johnson recently suggested "place and identity are rarely made or inhabited in a singular manner but are most often constructed and experienced as a variety of both literal and metaphorical roots and routes" (2001:320).

Such metaphorical "roots and routes" (ibid) is the Multicultural Festival organised by the municipality of Chania in Crete, Greece from 1997-2001. The Festival gave the opportunity to a number of ethnic groups which were living and working in Chania to create for a week their own space of activity and a sense of "home" away from home as well as to accustom locals to the cultural history of each participant country. The aim of the presentation is to challenge the notion of fixicity and rootedness that it is often raised in the local and national discourse and to call into question propositions that connect people with a locale by using shared history and tradition as a connection link. In this presentation I will demonstrate the way people "on the move" find the opportunity to create their own "roots" in a unfamiliar territory challenging the sense of locality which the people of the small provincial town of Chania in Greece experience. Two points will be raised, the first will be the significance on maintaining cultural diversity as opposed to multiculturalism or assimilation practices, while the second will be the discursive aspect of locality.

Panel W094
Migration and cultural change in Europe