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To Amphibolis and Back Again: Crisis Management, Heritage Politics and Grassroots Activism vs. "New Heritage" in Greece

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
12:00 AM
Helmut Stern Auditorium, University of Michigan Museum of Art

It has now been more than ten years since Greek economy collapsed, a process termed "the Greek crisis" within public discourses that debate not just policy and structure, but conduct and morality couched in cultural stereotypes. In this talk, I suggest that the Greek Crisis is first and foremost a process of social unravelling.  As such, it is a humanitarian crisis that has profoundly affected people's lives.  Among other consequences, this extended period of crisis has challenged Greeks' sense of self and identity.  In Greece as elsewhere, heritage is fundamental in constructing identity.  Since the foundation of the modern Greek state in 1828, the construction of "Greek" identity has taken the form of a powerful national narrative that imagines "ancient Greece" as the origin of the western world.

In addition to existential concerns of identity and nationalism, the Greek crisis and associated austerity policies have affected archaeology, museums, and heritage management in practical ways.  In this lecture, I draw on several recent events and controversies to demonstrate the complexity of heritage politics within "the crisis" setting and explore how new grassroots, alternative, heritage narratives have emerged from the margins to provoke public imagination or, in some cases, to enter the mainstream political arena.

Despina Margomenou