Understanding Homeland through Hospitality Practices
Interactions Between Greek and Turkish Exchangees in Ancestral Villages
The 1923 Greek-Turkish Population Exchange mandated the forcible and permanent expulsion of formerly Ottoman Greek Orthodox populations from the newly founded Republic of Turkey and Muslims from the expanded Greek nation following World War I and the Greco-Turkish War. Many Greek-Orthodox Christian and Muslim families who were part of the Population Exchange tell stories of their parents or grandparents, on the eve of resettlement, asking neighbors of different religious backgrounds to protect the keys to their homes until they were able to return. The descendants of Muslim exchangees to Mustafapaşa, Turkey (a central node in my multi-sited fieldwork), also mention ancestors who refused to unpack their belongings in the homes that they had been allocated in the new nation. They unrolled their sleeping mats each evening and rolled them up again in the morning, waiting for news from Atatürk (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic) that they could return to their homes in northern Greece. They were slow to realize that the homes they had left behind were now homelands – that is, places of belonging that exist “elsewhere, somewhere and/or sometime ‘other’ than the here and now”, including ancestral birthplaces as well as remembered and imagined versions of them. Many exchangees would never return to collect their keys. Most of the first generation died longing to return, their last wishes to be buried in their homeland cemeteries unfulfilled.