Reading the Signs: Fire and Displacement in Athens
Heath Cabot (University of Pittsburgh)
Paper short abstract:
This paper considers changing understandings of self and other in the context of austerity through the lens of the recent forest fires in Attica, Greece (Summer 2018)
Paper long abstract:
Drawing on my research on grassroots community based healthcare initiatives in Athens in the context of austerity, and the recent wildfires just outside of Athens, this paper asks how understandings of the relationship between "self" and "other," "home" and "displacement" are changing in Greece. The displacements of hundreds and maybe thousands by the fire speak to an overarching context in which the meaning of displacement, and the shape of the social and political body in Greece have radically changed. I argue that the 2018 fires and their aftermath are the latest and most dramatic example of the ongoing precaritization of a populace that increasingly does not recognize itself "at home," and which has (in the view of many) been left "to burn" by the state and by Europe. I ask how this configuration of citizenship challenges us to rethink understandings of citizenship, displacement, and insiders and outsiders. The dominant liberal vision of European citizenship—in which citizens are entitled to civil rights, and non-citizens (or "aliens") must claim and seek human rights—no longer seems to apply on Europe's margins.
Moving between self and other: Navigating hierarchy and alterity in cosmopolitical encounters