This forum focuses on the debt crisis in Greece (the 2010 EU/IMF “bailout” and subsequent austerity measures), as well as the various challenges that have been posed to the violence of neoliberal “adjustment.” The brief articles presented here have been solicited from observer-participants in the debates and protests, but also in the intimacies and banalities, defining everyday life in crisis Greece. The outlines of the crisis are widely known. Indeed, Greek society and its travails have never before been so visible to the global media eye. The aim of this forum is not so much to fill in this familiar outline of crisis with ethnographic detail as to trouble its parameters.
Whether Greece is a laboratory for neoliberal reform and violent repression of protest or a think tank on the streets and in the squares for redefining democracy, it is clear that this crisis is not just “about Greece.”
The first section "Debt, Responsibility and 'Reform'" treats debt not as a statistical fact, but anthropologically as a complex discourse on morality, responsibility, obligation and reciprocity. Against the breathless synchronicity of “breaking news” and (endless) speculation on the denouement of the crisis, these pieces insist on historicizing and globalizing. Piercing the blatant Orientalist tropes dominating international and often domestic reporting, they plumb the social, political and economic forces that have led to the current impasse, but also the political efficacy of “crisis” itself in legitimating the agenda of “structural reform.”
The second section "Precarity and Protest" centers on the escalating violence of the crisis and the emergent politics of protest. The December 2008 revolt, which first galvanized world media attention on Greece, returns again and again in the analyses as a formative moment, which brought to the fore the malaise and anger of Greek youth (the “generation of 700…600…500 Euro…”) and inaugurated new forms of political action now prominent in the movement of Greek indignants (aganaktismenoi) that began in May 2011 (i.e., networking through social media, a transcending of established party politics), while also bringing into play a new grammar of political violence in unpredictable development today. These texts shed light on the production and normalization of an ever growing number of vulnerable, dispossessed and disposable subjects, but also on stunning moments of courageous confrontation with structures of subjugation and exploitation organized along axes of gender, class, age, race and ethnic hierarchy.
The final section "Representations and Reverberations" traverses the aforementioned subjects with an emphasis on the mediation of the crisis: the crisis as media event, citizen journalism, new modes of networking through social media, form-breaking film and theater. The texts seek to situate Greek experience in relation to the global reverberation of protest, riot, revolt and death from the Arab Spring and Spanish Indignados to the UK riots and Occupy Wall Street.
“The Trouble with Greece” reads the title of a recent New York Times editorial (10/7/2011), as if Greece could be “fixed” and all would be well again. As we prepare to launch this forum, with the Greek bond "haircut" "deal" faltering on news of a proposed national referendum, the European/global economy is roiling once again, revealing the shakiest of foundations. Whether Greece as the weakest link in the eurozone is a laboratory for neoliberal reform and violent repression of protest, or a think tank on the streets and in the squares for redefining democracy, it is clear that this crisis is not just “about Greece.” These entries bear the imprint of these uneasy times: the shock, anxiety, growing violence, despair, loss of security, fear, sheer exhaustion, the feeling of being suspended or maybe in free fall, but also the renewed intellectual energy, desire for a new horizon of the political, the promise of new forms of cosmopolitan solidarity, a sense of opening.
Posts in This Series
The discussion of debt in Greece's current economic crisis has centered around the problem of sovereign debt, rather than the consumer debt that was so central ... More
Like many other peoples, the Greeks believe they’re unique. It’s just as true in regard to their good qualities as their bad. That’s why the Greek crisis has be... More
It was after the elections of 2009 that Greece entered into economic “crisis.” The pronouncement came from the lips of the newly elected prime minister himself,... More
“Crises,” such as the financial cum political crisis in Greece and the so-called “European periphery,” are usually analyzed as they occur and interpreted throug... More
I lived in Athens during the summers of 2003 and 2004, at the height of Greece’s Olympic-fueled renaissance. At the time, the economy was expanding and the adju... More
On May 11, 2011 a massive strike in Greece brought together for the first time in decades all of the workers’ unions, the youth, middle class civil servants, ... More
The so called 'Greek crisis' is linked with enormous structural violence, exercised by the state apparatuses and international institutions (IMF, EU, ECB), agai... More
What follows is the presentation of a critical event in the recent genealogy of “becoming precarious”: an event that has been one of the critical precursors to ... More
Statement of the Assembly of Migrant Hunger StrikersWe are migrant men and women, refugees from all over Greece. We came here to escape poverty, unemployment, w... More
The recent higher-education reform has triggered protest in a number of universities throughout the country, which came to a head this September. Many students ... More
In November 2010 the Onassis Cultural Centre opened its doors to visitors in Athens with a big conference entitled Athens Dialogues. With world class academics ... More
Like any media event, the Greek debt “crisis” has proved a watershed moment in the transformation of media practices and ideologies. Indeed, the crisis consti... More
During the past years, on-line literature and media has been extended to the “YouTube” world, or to be more precise the YouTube world of homemade films has ente... More
From the cracks of sovereignty’s walls, blood is dripping: the color is bright red. Whose blood is it? Is it the blood of the revolutionary who was beaten to de... More