Accepted Paper:

De-localizing perceptions: constructing European citizenships between corruption and the negation of the state  


Petros Passas (Danish Refugee Council)

Paper short abstract:

This paper argues that political subjectivity engendered by the economic crisis in Greece requires that local corruption perceptions be understood not as a refraction of uniquely local phenomena, but on a sliding scale of analysis that begins with the local and ends with the supranational.

Paper long abstract:

This paper, based on doctoral research conducted in Ermoupolis, Greece between 2013-2015, argues that the Greek economic crisis offers the opportunity to re-examine the category of corruption anthropologically to take a more critical stance towards the proliferation of corruption perceptions as an evaluative mechanism. Differing from other anthropological critiques of corruption perceptions, which question the homogenizing tendencies of corruption perceptions indices, it argues that corruption perceptions, as articulated through everyday discourse within a small community in Greece, actually offer a perspective which reifies the national state as a refraction of the European one, and therefore, offers key insights into how the idea of European citizenship is being constructed in the European periphery.

By connecting ethnographic data on the crisis with corruption perceptions, the paper thus explores the concomitant shifts in political subjectivity engendered by this expanded critical understanding of corruption, and the relation between austerity, perceptions of corruption and personal experience with government. It analyzes how corruption has come to represent the very shortcomings of a comprised democratic system in Greece and has thereby created political subjectivities void of any meaningful outlet of civic expression. By identifying the relationship between perceptions of corruption and the experience of citizenship, the paper argues for an expanded perspective of corruption which requires that we no longer situate local corruption perceptions as a refraction of strictly local phenomenon, but on a sliding scale of analysis that begins with the local and tangible and ends with the supranational and intangible.

Panel P010
Patronage-clientelism 2.0: the legacy of Mediterraneanist anthropology in contemporary corruption/anti-corruption studies [MedNet]