Accepted Paper:

"Solidarity with Greece?": ethnography and revolutionary tourism on Europe's margins  


Heath Cabot (University of Pittsburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This paper critically examines Greece's emergence as a site of interest to an international left, the ethics of foreign political and ethnographic engagement in this country on the margins, and the possibilities and limits of solidarity.

Paper long abstract:

Greece has become a prime destination for new forms of tourism, now frequented by an emerging international intelligentsia, who have come to frame Greece as an epicentre in transnational class and anti-racist struggles. Researchers, activists, volunteers, and other foreign elites now frequent Athens' social centers and community kitchens, and Aegean islands have become prime destinations for voluntourism trips. This new interest in Greece is, in part, tied to the election of the "radical left" party Syriza in 2015 (and the dissentions wrought through Syriza's own adoption of austerity measures), as well as Greece's crucial role in receiving refugees crossing into Europe. There is also significant international excitement in what is known as the "solidarity movement" in Greece, the grassroots-level modes of resource pooling and redistribution, through which Greek residents have responded to austerity and also welcomed refugees. This foreign participation in Greece is not to be dismissed, and indeed, has provided crucial labor, resources, and support. Yet it begs serious questions regarding the ethics and responsibilities of researchers and activists. As a non-Greek anthropologist, with a long-standing ethnographic engagement in Greece, I will explore the fraught histories and tensions of foreign political participation in this country on the margins. Drawing on my research on asylum politics and solidarity networks in Greece, I will inquire into both emic and etic meanings of both the "left" and the "political," and the possibilities and limits of solidarity itself.

Panel P054
Ethnographies of the contemporary left