Accepted paper:

The academic and public role of folkloric and anthropological scholarship in contemporary Greece


Vassiliki Chryssanthopoulou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

Paper short abstract:

This paper refers to the paths that folklore and anthropology have followed in Greece. It examines differences and exchanges between them during the past 30 years and focuses on the current state of their mutual relationship as illustrated through their engagement with intangible heritage.

Paper long abstract:

First this paper deals with the different historical, political and social factors underlying the academic establishment of folklore and anthropology in Greece in the early 20c and in the mid-1980s respectively. While folklore was seen as supportive of Greek national identity, anthropology aspired to social rather than national issues mainly within Greek society and culture. The two disciplines have developed separately and are still viewed as the opposite of each other despite similarities and exchanges in their thematics, theories and methodologies over the past 30 years. We then look at the uni-directional impact of anthropological theories and research methodologies upon folklore and examine the lack of interest in folkloric production by Greek anthropologists. "Hybrid" scholars, folklorist anthropologists, in particular, have been influential in bringing about a renewal of folklore. The majority of Greek anthropologists, however, have turned their backs on an indigenous scholarly tradition that offers considerable insights into matters of oral transmission, the study of Greek culture over time, and into academic engagement with the public. As regards the latter, I analyse the public role of folklore in Greek education and in local identity formation and its relationship to the lay or folk base in Greek society. The distinct features of the two disciplines are also examined vis-à-vis international folkloric and anthropological trends regarding both academic and public functions of these disciplines. The different ideologies and practices of the two disciplines are illustrated through the analysis of folklorist and anthropological handling of documentation of intangible heritage in Greece at present.

panel Disc003
Is there a sense of community uniting anthropology, ethnology and folklore today? (World Council of Anthropological Associations panel)