Spaces of Europe – Places of Homeland: Greek-Danish Diaspora Life in Narratives of Home and Return

Anastasia Christou

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This article focuses on first- and second-generation Greek and Greek-Danish migrants and return migrants, exploring their experiences of geographical, social and cultural mobility in forging a sense of self and belonging. The analysis of narrative material explores these issues in relation to the Greek diaspora community in Denmark, their attempts to relocate to their ancestral homeland and their transnational relations. Furthermore, the meanings attached to the notion of “home” in a transnational context and the multiple processes of identification in response to cultural differentiation in how participants define belongingness in European, Danish, Scandinavian and Hellenic spaces are examined. It is demonstrated how “ethnonational homecoming” (re)defines how migrants negotiate their sense of self in relation to person-place relations but also through movement in social space. Narrative life-story data of migrants and return migrants form the empirical basis of this discussion. It is important to examine interconnected systems of social, historical, cultural and political dynamics in both “home” and “host” countries in terms of migrants’ experiential narratives of space and the gendered constitution of home-spaces. This approach serves to inspect the process of appropriation of space through an examination of agency over the salience of ethnocultural signifiers. However, cultural ambiguities about identification and belonging may also conceal intergenerational tensions about how “Danishness” and “Greekness” is expressed through diasporic consciousness. In conclusion, the article considers how biographical and narrative research may serve to stimulate dialogue about the relationship of identities to place, in order to add to migration research on everyday life in the diaspora. 

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article: 

Christou, Anastasia. Spaces of Europe – Places of Homeland: Greek-Danish Diaspora Life in Narratives of Home and Return. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2008, vol.10, no.2, pp. 194-207, UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol10/issue2/art5

About the author: 

Anastasia Christou is currently the research fellow of the three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project “Cultural Geographies of Counter-Diasporic Migration: The Second Generation Returns ‘Home’” at the Sussex Centre for Migration Research of the University of Sussex (United Kingdom). She was formerly lecturer in human geography and visiting research fellow at the Sussex Centre for Migration Research (2006) and lecturer in cultural geographies and culture in time and space in the Department of Geography at the University of Sussex (2005). She has been a Marie Curie research fellow at the University of Sussex and has conducted research for the University of York, Canada, ELIAMEP and ANTIGONE Information and Documentation Centre on Racism, Ecology, Peace and Non Violence – official National Focal Point of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism, Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism. As a human geographer she has expertise in social and cultural geography, researching within the areas of ethnic and migration studies, Greek-American studies and Modern Greek studies, while having widely published on issues of migration and return migration; the second generation and ethnicity; space and place; transnationalism and identity; culture and memory; gender and feminism; home and belonging. E-mail: A.Christou(at)sussex.ac.uk

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