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The effects of the economic crisis on Greece are many and multifarious. Their analysis
and proper evaluation constitute by no means an easy task for anthropologists. I write
this text in the shadow of two deaths of Greek university students in the provincial town
of Larissa, due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The students, who could not afford to
pay for central heating, had regularly been using an impromptu charcoal-burning brazier
that proved to be lethal.' Less than two weeks before this incident, Britain's Guardian
newspaper, drawing on EU data, warned its readers that Greece was a country in serious
poverty with a considerable proportion of its population facing moderate to extreme
material deprivation.^ Greece has been hit by an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, the
effects of which are still diffictilt to measure and appreciate.
At the same time, a different but equally severe kind of humanitarian crisis is unfolding
in all major Greek cities. It concerns a large category of people colloquially termed 'illegal
immigrants' (Jathrometandstes), but in reality it affects every person who is notor does
not seem to be, Greek. Refugees from countries like Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan,
Bangladesh, as well as asylum seekers, sometimes students and even tourists become
victims of racist violence daily on the streets of Athens, Thessaloniki, Chania and Patras.
Most of these assaults have been attributed to 'Golden Dawn' (Chrisi Avgi), a neo-Nazi
political party whose share of votes soared from 0.29 per cent in the 2009 elections to
6.9 per cent in the elections of 2012 and translated into eighteen seats in the Greek
parliament. The party's provocatively fascist public statements and the criminal assaults
that have been attributed to their membersincluding the fact that their spokesperson
physically attacked a female, communist party MP on air during a TV showhave not
prevented the popularity of Golden Dawn from increasing. The latest opinion polls
(February 2013) estimate its support to be between ten and twelve per cent and they
surmise that should elections be held now. Golden Dawn would become the third political
power in Greek parliament.
As with every other aspect of the current political and economic climate in Greece,
the rise of Golden Dawn is a hugely complex, multidimensional phenomenon. We may
know who constitutes the eponymous corpus of Chrisi Avgi and the inner, militarilyorganized circle comprising the party's main structureand we may equally dispute
their ideological and political characteryet as anthropologists we are perplexed why
thousands of anonymous Greeks seem to be offering support to this neo-Nazi group.

Suomen Antropologi: Joumat of the Finnish Anthropological Society

38(1) Spring 2013
PO Box 59, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland


Many journalists and public commentators prefer to explain away the phenomenon
with the claim that radical nationalism is not a new occurrence. According to this view,
supporters of the far right have always existed. Until recendy they were hidden within the
mainstream political parties; now they have merely become apparent as a political force as
a result of disintegration and radical changes in the local political situation. Being content
with such an explanation wotild be tempting, if it were not for the fact that it confines
thousands of Creeks to the uncomfortable and generalizing category of the 'fascist'.
Another popular explanation, in contrast to this, is to argue that Colden Dawn became
strong solely in the context of and as a result of the effects of the economic crisis on the
Creek public; though in my opinion this would be a tremendous oversimplification. The
people who are coming closer to Colden Dawn day by day are not making this political
choice solely because they view the party as an anti-systemic political alternative that will
put the final nail in the coffin of the old regime. Rather, it seems that support for neoNazi radicalist discourses is not just an innocent retaliation against the post-war political
system of corruption and feckless governance. I suggest that partly it is its product.
The economic crisis and the humanitarian crisis that have hit the Creek people operate
as a context and as a field (in the sense that Bourdieu theorized it) for the rise of extremism
in Creece. Extremism is certainly fuelled by an embedded nationalism that has been
systematically cultivated through education and in the public sphere since Second World
War, and this has.been well documented in the anthropology of Creece.' Xenophobic and
extreme right wing discourses find support in the familiar idea of the 'enemy within', which
has been an instrumental concept in Cold War politics in a country whose 'geopolitical
importance in Cold War years constituted foreign intervention not an exception but a
consistent pattern in Creece's relationship with the West' (Kirtsoglou 2006: 80; cf Clogg
1992: 146147). This notion of the enemy withinwhat we might call a hollow category
in itself (cf Theodossopoulos 2007)refers to 'foreigners' {allodapoi) as sweepingly today
as it did in the past when it was even used to discriminate against communists, proving
that political rhetoric produces mtiltivalent tropes that are easily manipulated in their
One of the main political arguments that Colden Dawn routinely puts forwardwith
successrelates to Rindamental cultural differences between 'foreigners' and Creeks.
Based on the claim that most of the immigrants come from Muslim countries, Chrisi Avgi
cunningly plays with a number of social representations that were born and methodically
nurtured in the context of the 'war against terror' in the aftermath of September 11.
Images of backward 'Taliban' who beat women in the streetshown on international
networks and reproduced by local mediahave encouraged a view of the world divided
in terms of a 'clash of civilizations' paradigm, which is a simplistic perspective even
if it is not alien even to the academic world, as the work of authors like Huntington
(1996) demonstrate (cf Brown and Theodossopoulos 2003). The very reasoning that
the United States deployed in order to gain support for intervening in countries like Iraq
and Afghanistanarguing that it was restoring democracy and human rights in those
countriesis today coming to haunt democracy and human rights in Creece's turbulent
Another important dimension of an anthropological explanation of the rise of the
Colden Dawn relates to the character of the nation-state as the 'fullest institutional
Snomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2013



expression of human solidarity we have to date' (Willdns 1992: 26). Currently the nation
state operates as the ultimum refugium for an uneasy and confused ethnos, whichdespite
its pricey commitment to the Westhas always been like an interior exclusion in the
West itself (cf Kirtsoglou 2006), its 'asymmetric partner'. What is going on is perceived
in Greece as reflecting a distinctive lack of European support, and a punitive attitude
from their European partners, and it is steadily transforming the content of yet another
hollow category, that of anti-Americanism. This concept operated for years as a cultural
metaphor for felt and lived power asymmetries in the international political field. Now antiAmericanism is giving way to anti-Europeanism, and haphazardly but steadily sustaining
collective feelings of closure and xenophobia (cf Kirtsoglou and Theodossopoulos 2010).
This is especially true vis--vis the rules of the Schengen Agreement on immigration,
which are forcing Greece to become a huge detainee camp'* whilst the country struggles to
efiFectively guard its vast coastal areas. The lack of European and international support for
the Greek people and the extreme neo-liberal focus on debt-reducing economic policies,
which treat the state and its inhabitants as one and the same entity, are encouraging
Greeks to further identify with the nation state and providing support to nationalist
ideologies. Cosmopolitan attitudes and discourses increasingly appear to a great number
of Greek people as not only irrelevant, but as a luxury that only elites can afford. As my
Greek informants and fellow citizens often bitterly point out, a suburban lifestyleeven
todayguarantees that the 'foreigners' with whom the upper class fraternizes tend to be
their domestic servants and not the destitute Pakistani refugees, or Somali prostitutes that
cross paths with the disenfranchised inhabitants of the centre of Athens.
The actual role of the local elites is of course hugely important, particularly in its
historical dimension and depth. The anthropology of Greece has amply documented the
processes through which, for several decades after the Second World War, local elites
specifically cultivated nationalist sentiment through education policy and public culture.
As I noted, extreme right wing discourses were systematically promoted in post WWII
Greece and supported by the Cold War climate. Elsewhere (2006) I have considered
the role and power of the para-state apparatus {parakrtos). This is also something that
cannot be understood outside the context of international Cold War politics, flourishing
and culminating as it did under the US-supported military junta that fell in 1974. Post1974 Greece however, saw the rise of another kind of elite that reached its peak of power
and influence in the 1990s. James Faubion has captured the character of this 'socially
conscious member of a literary new wave' in his 1993 book Modern Creek Lessons, in the
person of Loukas Theodorakopoulos, a supporter of homosexual rights in Greece:
Both his education and his experiences were solidly inrernarional (...) he [conformed to] the pattern
of rhe Greek 'modernizer' (...). They were 'srudenrs who had studied abroad (...)' and who brought
what strategies and technologies they had acquired back home with them after rhe junra's demise.
(Faubion 1993:234)

Academically educatedmainly away from Greece-and exposed to a self-conscious

cosmopolitanism and tolerance, the representatives of this new elite with its mostly upper
middle-class background which nevertheless cannot be reduced to its class position,
fervently supported the project of deconstructing Greek nationalism, theoretically and


Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2013


practically. This was a globally conscious literary new waveto which I see myself as
belongingand it undertook the enormous task of looking nationalism in the eye and
uncovering its heinous role in the formation of local political selves. Sadly, our communal
efforts were too frequently far removed from lived history, from the embedded memories
of older people like those who crashed on Greek shores in refugee boats after ehe Asia
Minor Gaeaserophe,' or of ehose who foughe ehe Axis powers in 1940. Ourdare I
say, elieiseapproach was disconnected from the feelings of the general popeilation, of
people who had acquired considerable consumer power, who looked and behaved like
their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, but who had received a nationalist and formalist
education (cf Mouzelis 1978: 145) which was of dubious usefulness since, outward
appearances notwiehseanding, their professional fueure depended largely on ehe clieneelise
neeworks of polieical pareies. In a counery where 'conneceions' are ehe only means eo 'gee
things done' (cf Sutton 2003: 200), where the social contract proves to be a fragile myth
(Kiresoglou 2006) and belonging eo an ineernational community as an equal partner
turns out to be mere folly (cf Glogg 1992; Argyrou 2002), citizens are lefe wieh whae
culeural meeaphors they can trust; namely kinship, the state-as-kinship and the naeionas-kinship (cf Juse 1989).
The rise of the Golden Dawn demonstratesbut does not exhaustthe amplification
of, at times, extreme nationalist sentiments in Greece, but it also indicates the mtilti-level
failure of this reformist movement to institute real change in Greek political culture.
We, as auehropologists,** might have succeeded in recording the voices of minorities,
and in exposing oppressive and exclusionist strategies that required our immediate
anthropological attention, but we have not succeeded in making a real difference in the
ideological fabric of Greek society. This failure can be mostly attributed to the fact that we
were not always careful in the way we tried to see the world from the informants' point of
view, taking local discourses seriously. In our hastiness to deconstruct the larger workings
of power, we acted like Galtung's scientific colonialists; we assumed that 'we knew more
about Greeks than Greeks knew about themselves', and we ofeen located 'the centre of
gravity for the acquisition of knowledge about the nation (...) outside the nation itself
(Galtung 1967: 13).
The growing influence of Ghrisi Avgi among the middle and lower income groups of
Greek society on the one hand, and the refuelling of radical nationalism generally on the
other, are political phenomena that we can no longer afford to analyze from the comfort
zone of our desks. For real people are losing real lives on the streets of Greek cities; and these
people are sometimes Greek and more often non-Greek, but in all cases disempowered,
materially deprived, scared and disenfranchised. They are historically situated selves and
we need to appreciate their histories instead of seeing them as 'anomalies' in hegemonic
discourses of'progress' (Asad 1991). If we cannot take our informants seriously, if we
cannot relate to their painfed histories and if we cannot produce grassroots analysis of
their fears and apprehensions, then we can never represent them anthropologically and
we will never allow their voices to be heard. That task will continue to be undertaken by a
group of dark-minded thugs whoironicallycall themselves 'The Golden Dawn'.

Suomen Aiuropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2013



' <http://dawnofi:hegteeks.wotdptess.com/2013/03/02/>
^ <http://www.guatdian.co.uk/commentisftee/2013/feb/ll/greece-humanitarian-crisis-eu>
^ See indicatively but not exhaustively: Theodossopoulos (ed.) 2007; Brown and Hamilakis (eds) 2003;
Cowan 2000.
* Ihe Wall Street Journal September 15 2012, also available online at: <http://online.wsj.com/article/
' I am teferring here to the defeat of the Greek Army on the shores of Asia Minor in 1922.
' This comment does not exclude othet academics (historians, archaeologists and so forth) hete,
however, the focus is on anthropologists.

Argyrou, V. 2002. Anthropology and the Will to Meaning: A Postcolonial Critique. London: Pluto Press.
Asad, T. 1991. From the History of Colonial Anthropology to the Anthropology of Western
Hegemony. In G. Stocking (ed.) Colonial Situations: Essays on the Contextualisation ofEthnographic
Knowledge. History of Anthropology vol. 7. Madison: IJniversity of Winsconsin Press.
Brown, K. S. and Y. Hamilakis 2003. The Usable Past: Greek Metahistories. Lanham: Lexington books.
Brown, K. and D. Theodossopoulos 2003. Rearranging Solidarity: Conspitacy and Wotld Order in
Greek and Macedonian Commentaries of Kossovo. Journal ofSouthern Europe and the Balkans A (3):
Clogg, R. 1992. A Concise History of Greece. Cambtidge: Cambtidge University Press.
Cowan, J. (ed.) 2000. Macedonia: Ihe Politics ofIdentity and Difference. London: Pluto.
Fauhion, J. D. 1993. Modern Greek Lessons: A Primer in Historical Constructivism. Princeton:
Princeton University Press.
Gattung, J. 1967. Scientific Colonialism. Transition Vol. 30: 10-15.
Huntington, S. P. 1996. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon
& Schuster.
Just, R. 1989. Triumph of the Ethnos. In E. Tonkin, M. McDonald and M. Chapman (eds). History
and Ethnicity. London: Roudedge.
Kirtsoglou, E. 2006. Unspeakable Ctimes: Athenian Gteek Perceptions of Local and International
Tetrorism. In A. Strathern, P. Stewatt and N. Whitehead (eds). Terror and Violence: Imagination and
the Unimaginable. London: Pluto.
Kirtsoglou, E. and D. Theodossopoulos 2010. The Poetics of Anti-Americanism in Greece: Rhetoric,
Agency and Local Meaning. In E. Kirtsoglou and D. Theodossopoulos (eds). Rhetoric and the Workings
ofPower. Special Issue in Social Analysis 54 (1): 106124.
Mouzelis, N. 1978. Modern Greece: Facets of Underdevelopment. New York: Holmes & Meier.
Sutton, D. 2003. Poked by the 'Foreign Finger' in Greece: Conspiracy Theory or the Hetmeneutics
of Suspicion? In K. S. Brown and Y. Hamilakis (eds). The Usable Past: Greek Metahistories. Lanham:
Lexington books.
Theodossopoulos, D. 2007. Inttoduction: The 'Tutks' in the Imagination of the 'Greeks'. In D.
Theodossopoulos (ed.). When Greeks Think about Turks: The ViewfromAnthropology. London: Routledge.
Wilkins, B. T. 1992. Points of Conflict: Terrorism and Collective Responsibility. London: Routledge.


Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2013




Elisabeth Kirtsoglou's theoretically pertinent commentary about the rise of fascism in

Greece invites additional anthropological interpretation. Golden Dawn is undeniably
and unashamedly a fascist party and its leadership make no attempt to hide their extreme
racist and anti-immigration views, and yet almost every social scientist who has conducted
research in and about Greece would agree with Kirtsoglou that there simply is no fascist
ideological proclivity among the overwhelming majority of the Greek population. So,
how do we explain the growing and openly expressed support for a politico-ideological
formation that is avowedly unpopular and rejected in Greece, and yet is now apparently
supported even by people who sayas my research has also indicatedthat they do not
like fascism and who do not see themselves as fascists?
Anthropologists are very well suited to answer this type of question, as they conduct
longitudinal research among respondents who may change their political affiliation over
time. They are, thus, in a very good position to compare and trace possible inconsistencies
between attachment to particular political parties and ideological predilections, as these
are expressed by the same respondents in different local contexts. My commentary below
is founded on such longitudinal fieldwork in Greece, in particular the town of Patras,
where I have been doing fieldwork since 1999.
The practice of supporting a party without necessarily (and fully) identifying with its
ideological principles is now widespread in Greece, following the financial crisis and the
heavy austerity measures instituted as a response to this crisis. Yet there is another political
party, SYRIZA, that has also recently seen a spectacular rise in popularity, far surpassing
even that of Golden Dawn. Yet, SYRIZA bears absolutely no similarityin its political
orientation or its overall political aestheticsto Golden Dawn. It is clearly a party of the
left, and its founding principles exemplify a vision more radical than social democracy
or the centre-left. Yet, the great majority of its new supporters now come from the Greek
Socialist party (PASOK), for which support has declined considerably after it attempted
to introduce the first wave of austerity measures.
A majority of ex-Socialist party supportersas well as many voters who would readily
identify with the 'centre' and who in previous elections determined the electoral results
have now transformed SYRIZA into a mighty political power. Not all of them share
the ideological principles of their new party, and most do not share a left-wing vision
that departs in any significant respect from hegemonic, bourgeois versions of governance
familiar from around the world. Those among them with whom I have talked in the field
openly admit this particular discrepancy, but they hope, as they explained to me, that
SYRIZA will transform itself into a less 'radical' party, but one strong enough to deliver
them from the plague of the austerity measures. While the leadership of SYRIZA is trying
to resolve such inconsistencies by redesigning its political program to match its new and
more conformist electorate supporta compromise that wil inevitably alienate older
supporters who opt for a rift with hegemonic neoliberal politicsthe party's new voters
Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2013



care less about refined ideological discrepancies than about the unbearable consequences
of austerity.
For the new supporters of SYRIZA, who do not lean towards the left as much as their
leadership, and for the new supporters of Colden Dawn, who in their overwhelming
majority are not fascists, the older political establishment has betrayed 'the confidence of
the people' {tin empistostni tu lau)and here, 'the Greek people' stands for a community
of individuals imagined as similar (in Benedict Anderson's terms), but also for the
particular communities of concrete ordinary citizens whom one knows firsthand: the
many people 'next door' who have been afflicted by the crisis. Against those parties that
have betrayed the confidence of a community of either imagined or concrete (known and
named) fellow citizens, many local actors in Creece express their indignation {aganaktisi).
Indignation, in turn, helps us contextualize and understand the perceived discrepancies
between the ideology of these voters (conceived as ordinary citizens) and the ideology of
political party elites.
In my search for an anthropologically robust interpretation, I have explored the
metaphorical and semantic empowerment enabled by the concept of 'indignation',
something that turns out to be a powerful trope in articulating local opposition to
neoliberal austerity in Creece (see Theodossopoulos 2013). In the context of crisisafflicted Creece, a discourse of indignation does not merely address a public sentiment
or a set of rhetorical arguments; rather it has emerged to reflect a wider engagement with
accountability. It is from this perspective that indignation can be seen as addressing a
general concern with causalitywith the aetiology of blame (Herzfeld 1992)and with
justice and injustice in the context of the crisis.
Seen from this perspective, the citizens who support parties that confront austerity
such as SYRIZA but also Colden Dawnwithout fully accepting the depth and breadth
of the political values promoted by such parties, are participating in a wider exercise
of negotiating accountability. Conservative voters, who are not fascists, may be seen as
declaring their support for Colden Dawn, while 'soft' socialists (ex-PASOK supporters)
with consumerist lifestyles, are moving their allegiance to SYRIZA. One message among
many that such political choices entail, is to communicate disapproval (and anger) with
the old parties that controlled politics in the past, including their 'own' previous parties.
Beyond the punitive dimension of shifting political allegiance, disaffected voters who
now support new parties also negotiate many other issues through their indignation:
they challenge the rationality and inevitability of austerity and, more importantly, they
artictilate their awareness and provide personal explanations for the cause-and-effect
interrelationships that led their country to the crisis.
It is in this respect that Kirtsoglou's commentary encourages a deeper engagement with
the causes of what appearsat first sightto be unusual political behaviour. While media
reportage highlights the punitive dimension of voting against the old political parties
in Creece, an anthropological (and more nuanced) view can highlight how indignation
has provided the impetus for articulating mtiltiple and complex local explanations of
the crisis (Theodossopoulos 2013). Such local indignant views of accountability are not
mere discursive weapons'weapons of the weak' as Scott (1985) would have it. Rather,
I suggest that they have played a profound role in determining the shape of the entire
political landscape in Creece (Theodossopoulos, forthcoming).

Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2013


In sum, I tend to agree with Kirtsoglou that the majority of the 'thousands of anonymous
Greeks' who appear to offer their support to Golden Dawn do not fully identify with its
neo-Nazi ideological inclinations. Yet their heavily nationalist ideological attachments are
rooted in a particular type of national education and respond, as Kirtsoglou has oudined,
CO perceived injustices related to the orientalist treatment of Greece by foreign nations,
as well as to class inequalities within Greece. These considerations highlight that the
recent popularity of parties such as Golden Dawn deserve serious study, ideally from an
ethnographic point of view that will encourage attention to the local meaningfulness of
shifting political allegiances or phenomena such as the emerging xenophobia (Herzfeld
2011). Such a nuanced academic approach may problematize the tendency of many
journalists to explain away neo-fascism. Instead, it would mean opening the way for
acknowledging the complexity of local views, even if these appear disagreeable.

Herzfeld, M. 1992. The Social Production ofIndifference: Exploring the Symbolic Roots of Western
Bureaucracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Herzfeld, M. 2011. Crisis Artack: Impromptu Ethnography in the Greek Maelstrom. Anthropology
Today 27 0): 22-26.
Scott, James C. 1985. Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms ofPeasant Resistance. New Haven: Yale
University Press.
Hieodossopoulos, D. 2013. Infuriated with the Infuriated? Blaming Tactics and Discontent abour the
Greek Financial Crisis. Current Anthropology 54 (2): 200-221.
Theodossopoulos, D. forthcoming. The Poetics of Indignation in Greece: Anti-Ausreriry Protest and
Accountability. In Pnina Werbner (ed.). Beyond Arab Spring. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Universiry Press.



A six-foot high swastika adorns the wall of the unused railway station in a small village
in Thessaly where I have conducted research since 2003. Sprayed in black and red, it is
accompanied by slogans calling for the slaughter of immigrants. It is representative of
the reconfiguration of the Greek political scene and the significant international media
attention given to the openly neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. Yet analysis of this seemingly
renegotiated political arena has yet to go much beyond the surface level; I agree that

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excavating complex local and national histories, as Kirtsoglou and Theodossopoeilos

suggest, is imperative to deconstructing the currene crisis and associaeed polieical
My informanes in Thessaly regularly frame ehe Troika ineerveneion as neo-colonialism
and occupaeion, emphasising ehe eemporal proximiey of specific hiseorical momenes.
In eheir accounes, ehey condense evenes eemporally so as eo give meaning eo ehe crisis
sieuaeion. Today's Troika auseeriey is ealked of in eerms of Oeeoman and Axis occupaeions,
ehe Greae Famine of 1 9 4 1 ^ 3 and the 1967-74 dictatorship. These narratives emphasise
the Greek struggle against an Oeher, as periods of boeh coUeceive suffering and coUeceive
foreieude (Knighe 2013a). The colourful hiseorical relaeionship between Greece and
Germany is often at the fore of political debate. The Axis occupation of 19411944
whichcoupled with the British blockade of the Eastern Mediterraneanbrought
famine eo Greece, regularly punceuaees discourse, as does seolen wareime gold, the 1960s
labour migration, and recent renewable energy initiatives that overtly promote German
products (Knight 2012b). The fascination with Germany stretches to critiques of current
political trajectories.
Seen in ehis Iighe, the popularity of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn may seem especially
paradoxical. Although anthropologists may wish eo deeach ehemselves from apparenely
flippant historically sensitive inference, local people often condense Nazi wareime
occupaeion ineo currene German-diceaeed auseeriey, and ehis appears as a reeurn eo ehe
unhindered represeneaeion of people's views of ehe world ehae Kiresoglou advocates. This
has been notably evident during public demonstrations where effigies of Angela Merkel
have been draped in Nazi uniforms before being see alighe. These piceures have been
regularly screened on ineernaeional news bulletins and in the printed press.
Given that accounts from the 1940s of villages being burnt to the ground and of
mass executions staged by the Nazis still pervade local ctilture (cf Mazower 1993),
one has to wonder how people legitimise an openly neo-Nazi party. I suggest that the
popularity of the Golden Dawn is down to a mixture of disillusionment and 'numbness'
with mainstream politics and deep-rooted nationalist ideologies transmitted through
the education system and popular culture. As Theodossopoulos rightly notes, many
'supporters' do not necessarily agree with the neo-Nazi agenda, but they still openly give
legitimacy to Golden Dawn's cause if not its tactics.
Kirtsoglou is correct to suggest that immigration has become a tangible problem in
many parts of Greece, partly due to binding international treaties. However, even in
rural Thessaly, where one is hard pushed to come across an immigrant even under the
favoured collective rubric 'Pakistani' {Pakistanos), the stereotype prevails. It is not unusual
for people who were not directly impacted by critical events to embody them through
wider collective appropriations: one case is the now regular references to the 1940s famine
made by people in areas that were noe even direcely affeceed by ehe original evene (Knighe
2012a). Hence even in rural areas ehe 'immigraeion problem' is underseood as ceneral eo
increasing poverey and crime in Greece. This means ehae one of Golden Dawn's ceneral
objeceives is legieimised as people coneinue eo comprehend social eurmoil ehrough ehe
scaled prisms of colleceiviey: ehe 'ehe family', 'ehe village', 'ehe naeion'.
The porerait of the immigrant is a continuation of bubbling nationalist feeling that can
be historically traced at least to the post-war period. Throughout the 1990s, the category

Suomen Atitropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2013


most likely to be employed to define the Other was the Albanian' {Alvans) (Herzfeld
2011), whilst the long-running 'Macedonian Question' (Danforth 1995; Cowan 2000)
is another example of embedded nationalist rhetoric that plays with ideals of history and
collectivity. As Kirtsoglou suggests, the education system and popular ctilture have been
effective tools for building nationalist sentiment, as refiected in how specific periods of
'nationalised' history become connected to the current economic crisis.
Ethnographers are in the unique position to discern important elements deeply
embedded in the social and historical fabric in order to better understand seemingly
paradoxical phenomena. Greeks have had to live with the crisis each day of the year for
nearly five years now and they report feeling 'numb' to politics (Knight 2013b). There
is disillusionment and resignation on all sides as people feel that neither following strict
Troika austerity, as supported by the current coalition government, nor a 'Grexit'
the term coined by the international media to denote a potential Greek exit from the
Eurozone and championed by opposition parties such as SYRIZA and Golden Dawn
wotild provide real solutions. This desperation is refiected in graffiti in peripheral Greek
towns and central Athens. Previously graffiti was aligned to specific political parties, the
green sun of PASOK, the bright red hammer and sickle of the communist KKE. Now
the graffiti is generally very emotional, 'physically seeping with desperation and anguish'
to use Serres' (1995:4) evocative language, and punctuated periodically by swastikas and
xenophobic slogans. The emotion displayed through this graffiti visually highlights a shift
away from the distinctive allegiances that have characterised Greek politics since the fall
of the junta in 1974. Now one can discern parallels between expressions of intense social
suffering and material poverty, and people's effiarts to legitimise an extremist political
In the arena of institutional politics, the increased sense of disillusionment and
precariousness induced by crisis has meant that political support has become dispersed
from the central parties towards two sides offering radical solutionsSYRIZA and
Golden Dawnan alignment acknowledged by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras. Within
this new configuration. Golden Dawn is a highly visible caricature of resistance. However,
often protest has turned more to the private domain. If a voice is to be given back to the
people, and if their everyday perceptions of the world are to be respected, as Kirtsoglou
advocates, then other 'political' acts must be considered in tandem with the public
demonstrations and the shocking political ideologies that trigger international academic
and media attention. Alternative forms of 'demonstration' lie just beneath the surface
and they offer severe critiques of the future. The breakdown of family networks as a
crisis-coping strategy, the increase in suicides in rural areas, and a return to wood-fuelled
heating are but three examples of protest often overlooked as commentators stick to
more wide-reaching and absurdly abstract political analysis. Analysis of national 'Politics'
(capital P) must be placed alongside the 'politics' (lower-case P) of everyday life to provide
a meaningful appraisal of social movements in the current context.
Until recendy, extended kin networks were employed in the Greek periphery to
circulate money, food, and other resources to stave off destitution. By Easter 2012,
however, the ruthless insufficiency of these networks in providing for the household was
obvious. In one case, a son who was visiting his elderly father in Trikala shortly afi:er
losing his job in Athens, turned off the freezer and emptied its contents into the back
Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2013



of his car before returning to the city. In his defence, he argued that he could no longer
afford the electricity to run the appliance and that his hungry children were his foremost
concern. Suicide rates have significantly increased in Greece, by 40 per cent in 2011, and
they regularly punctuate media reportage. These are public examples of local realities that
no longer inhabit the realm of the extraordinary (Knight 2012b: 59). Over the course
of the 2012 Christmas festivities, three people in theTrikala area committed suicide and
openly attributed their act to poverty, hunger and an inability to care for the family. A
recent return en-mass to using wood burning fires {tzakia and ksilosombes) instead of
expensive petrol-fuelled central heating has reignited questions concerning the position
of Greece in a modern Europe. Furthermore, a European Union-supported initiative
to encourage struggling farmers to install futuristic high-tech (often German-produced)
photovoltaic panels on prime agricultural land, is viewed by locals as neo-colonialism and
a return to times of German occupation. Protest against enforced austerity is diverse and
often introverted, enacted in the private domain or through smaller 'collective prisms'
than national politics.
I still wish to pick up on Kirtsoglou's point regarding the legacy of Greek anthropology
over the past twenty years. She argues that a generation of Greek ethnographers neglected
anthropological rigour by failing to 'take local discourses seriously', offering instead elitist
over-theorisations that were 'disconnected' from everyday life. This is rather intriguing.
I consider anthropologists such as Rene Hirschon, Charles Stewart, David Sutton
and the previous commentators to have produced first-rate ethnography, often dealing
directly with lived history and memory. Indeed, there is an extensive list of scholars who
have carefully recorded 'lived experience' across a wide spectrum of Greek society. It is
incumbent on the next anthropological generationof which I am partto continue to
delve deeper into representing 'the world from the informant's point of view'. Only then
will we better understand the complexities of wider political movements.
Since I commenced ethnographic research in Greece a decade ago, the socioeconomic
situation has changed irrevocably. It is in this reconstituted landscape that we must tackle
the intense paradoxes of contemporary sociopolitical and historical understanding. I
would advocate an increased dialogue between 'native' and 'foreign' anthropologists of
Greece. I am not by any means implying anything inherently problematic, but over the
past decade the anthropology of Greece has been characterised by a clear increase in 'native'
ethnographersGreeks studying Greece. There is a notable absence of 'foreign' scholars
in the younger generation (at least in Britain) whereas a well-rounded representation of
Greek political complexities from the ground up can surely only be built on a mixed
cohort of scholars.
Golden Dawn remains the outstanding 'angry voice' trying to locate blame, whilst
in their everyday lives people are forced to suffer the excruciating pain of increasing
austerity. Golden Dawn is then a critique of a political dead-end as much as a political
revolution. In a context where uneven neoliberal penetration operates alongside, yet is
not interchangeable with, 'traditional' modes of political and economic relations, the
imposition of austerity measures by an external Other inevitably fostets resentment. This
has become particularly problematic since the austerity measures seem to be based on
the notion that fiscal unity implies social, economic and historical homogeneity, and so
denies local specifics. This is to say the measures appear to be based on an assumption that

Stiomen Antropologi: Jonrnal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2013


the financial unity provided by Eurozone membership could only be built on cultural
or historical cohesion (Pryce 2012). Colden Dawn is but one facet of this unfolding
economic crisis and it must be understood in a way that captures the locally significant
nuances in both 'politics' and 'Polities'. Kirtsoglou and Theodossopoulos have opened
up a forum for a concentrated study of local meaning of what is often portrayed as
a monolithic phenomenon.

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Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 1/2013


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