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Greeks of Alexandria: Time, Place and Identity through the visual representations of a community in transition

Chrysocheri, Eirini. 2017. Greeks of Alexandria: Time, Place and Identity through the visual representations of a community in transition. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The thesis, based on anthropological fieldwork conducted in Alexandria (Egypt) from 2011 to 2012, focuses on the Greek Alexandrian community, a socially and territorially bounded urban diaspora entity, which through institutions, spatial arrangements and face-to-face interactions articulates a sense of connection to place through claims regarding a historically continuous socio-spatial connection to both Alexandria (and Egypt) and Greece.

The thesis draws on notions of time and space as a framework for discussing the social dynamics of the Greek Alexandrian community in relation to the complex context of social, economic and political transformations it has experienced over the last 60 years. The aim is to explore culturally defined concepts of identity and memory among Greek Alexandrians, particularly in relation to the major social, political and economic events that followed the Egyptian revolution of 1952, causing significant social and spatial transformations within the Greek Alexandrian community. These changes altered prevailing concepts of public and private space and affected the possibilities of successful inter-generational transmission of values and identities. As perceptions and practices explored in the thesis differ, depending on community role – leaders versus members – but also on age, the concept of generation is used to examine the diverse ways in which the past, present and future are variously understood and confronted.

Changing notions of Greek Alexandrian identity are explored by focusing not only on the community’s narrative constructs but also on the visual and material objects that members of the community considered to be meaningful. A wide range of ethnographic material was examined, from narratives, texts and interviews, to visual data such as photographs, videos, films, pictures, and material elements such as urban buildings and other spatial arrangements that are recognized as being central to the community. These diverse elements are brought together in the discussion of collaboration with research participants, which resulted in an exhibition on the history of the community. The exhibition became the means through which interactions across the community’s people and places unfolded, diverse narratives and sentiments about the past, the present and the future emerged, and the area in which frictions and tensions revealed themselves.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00022572

Keywords:

Memory, identity, Greek diaspora

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Anthropology

Date:

30 November 2017

Item ID:

22572

Date Deposited:

13 Dec 2017 16:28

Last Modified:

01 Aug 2018 05:15

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/22572

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