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Accepted Paper:

Borders are no concern of mine: belonging and lived citizenship amongst the expatriated Greeks of Turkey.  

Author:

Huw Halstead (University of St Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

For the Greeks of Turkey, citizenship is not simply inert and formal but is also a lived and affective phenomenon through which they construct their sense of self and belonging. It is subject to agency, adaptation and manipulation, serving mutable and sometimes subversive functions in everyday life.

Paper long abstract:

Faced with discrimination on the basis of their ethnic/religious identity, the Greeks of Istanbul and Imbros left Turkey in droves in the years after 1955. Most resettled in Greece, where they received a lukewarm reception from a government and populace that viewed them with suspicion due to their Turkish birthplace. My research explores how the expatriated Greeks respond to this dual alienation by constructing a sense of belonging that enables them to be simultaneously included in, yet distinctive within, the Greek nation state. By drawing on the particularities of their own local heritages and memories of living in Turkey, the expatriates seek to demonstrate that they are not just legitimately Greek but particularly Greek; more Greek, even, than the Greeks of Greece. In this paper, I focus on expatriate experience of citizenship as a lived category. Some of the expatriates hold Greek citizenship, some Turkish. I demonstrate that their expressions of self and identity are altogether more complicated and malleable than the apparent fixity and exclusivity of citizenship status as prescribed by the state. Nevertheless, citizenship looms large in their experiences, in both pragmatic and affective dimensions. The acquisition, loss, and performance of citizenship - even the very materiality of identity documents - are intimately connected to expatriate efforts to navigate the everyday experience of migration and belonging. Whilst the significance of citizenship thus goes far beyond mere words on an official document, these formal aspects of citizenship are nevertheless a part of, not something apart from, the lived experience of citizenship.

Panel P180
Shared marginal experiences? Comparing postcolonial memories from the European margins