“Atelier anti-tour in the neighborhoods of Thessaloniki” (Non-funded research program of public anthropology and decolonial methodology 2022 -….)

F. Tsibiridou (ed.)

Since 2022, at the Culture-Borders-Gender/Lab under the direction of F. Tsibiridou, a research team was formed, including: Areti Kondylidou, social anthropologist/theatrical, Ministry of Culture; Christina Gromballi, MA student, Department of Balkan, Slavic, and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia; Georgia Rina, postdoctoral researcher, Department of Balkan, Slavic, and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia; Nikos Manolas, PhD candidate in Anthropology, Department of Balkan, Slavic, and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia; Themis Valasiadis, PhD candidate in History, Department of Balkan, Slavic, and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia; Dimitris Kataiftsis, adjunct lecturer, Department of Balkan, Slavic, and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia; Anastasia Mitropanou, PhD candidate in Anthropology, Department of Balkan, Slavic, and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia; and Eftychia Karyda, MA student, Department of Balkan, Slavic, and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia. Visual and acoustic supervision was provided by Loukas Efstratiou (undergraduate student, UoA) and Christina Grammatikopoulou (research and teaching fellow, University of Macedonia).

The research team initiated a non-funded research program of Public Anthropology in the city of Thessaloniki, aimed at teaching and research in the field, both within and outside the walls of the academic community. Anti-tours were organized based on ethnographic and archival research, collaboration within the context of the workshop, and the use of decolonial methodologies at a neighborhood scale.

The ‘neighborhood’, as a subset of urban space, has been a significant category of sociological analysis of migration and refuge since the early 20th century. In 1925, the classic work of Park and Burgess (The City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019), founders of the Chicago School, connected African-Americans and Hispanic migrants in Northern American cities with the creation of so-called ‘ethnic neighborhoods’. This perception also associated refugee neighborhoods with resistance to assimilation and integration policies, often conflating ethnic neighborhoods with ghettos. With the end of European colonialism, when Anthropology returned home, particularly in the Mediterranean environment of Europe, and cautiously included the study of urban space, it focused on neighborhoods, highlighting, despite the oxymoron of intentions, the place as a signifier of socialization and the formation of gendered self, citizenship, and management of individual and collective memory. This participatory field observation methodologically contributed to the multifaceted and dynamic dimension of the neighborhood for knowledge and policy production.

In Greece, the 1922 refugee crisis exacerbated ethnic divisions within the national model, not only due to linguistic or religious differences, as seen distinctly in Thessaloniki between Jews and refugees, but also due to class and regional conditions. Following the ‘Asia Minor catastrophe’ of 1922 and the forced population exchange based on the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), refugees settled broadly in the northern Greek countryside, Athens, Piraeus, and urban environments within and outside the walls of Thessaloniki, significantly influencing the country’s economic, social, and political life. The first ethnographic research on the “Heirs of the Asia Minor Catastrophe” was conducted in Kokkinia, a ‘refugee neighborhood’ in Piraeus, by anthropologist Renée Hirschon in the 1970s (Heirs of the Catastrophe: The Social Life of Asia Minor Refugees in Piraeus. MIET, Athens, 2004).

In Thessaloniki, our relationship with the Others/foreigners/disenfranchised has historically passed through interpersonal short stories, daily small things, materialities, wounds and pleasures, memories, and experiences that were not of interest to the grand narratives of national memory, and were not reflected in our city’s national historical and archaeological museums. Within the framework of the seminar and other activities of Public Anthropology by the Culture-Borders-Gender/Lab, the first Anti-Tour workshop took place and was visually and acoustically recorded in September 2023.

Anti-Tour: Pilgrimage to the neighborhoods of the absent…   https://youtu.be/xggSkMYXglI

Since then, different occasions within the project have facilitated consecutive presentations, reflections, and feedback from diverse audiences. With the goal of this serving as a methodological example for further anti-tour workshops in the neighborhoods of the city, we explore how pilgrimage routes function as a decolonial anti-tour methodology in Ano Poli and the possibilities for other counter-categories to serve as concepts/keys for additional areas. Focusing on performance, materialities, and subaltern bodies, we not only give visibility and voice to those who otherwise cannot speak but also highlight the potential for restoring narratives that do not reflect national dominance, and reversing/restoring wisdom and prudence from below, through everyday practices that address the past as the history of the present and anticipate the significance of lived experiences in a more inclusive future.

Specifically, within the framework of a Summer School in collaboration with foreign universities and the French School of Athens on “Religion and Politics: Between res publica and private practices” (September 2023), participation as a collaboration of the Culture-Borders-Gender/Lab (BSOS-PAMAK) included, among other activities, an anti-tour workshop inside and outside the Eastern Walls of the city.

In the anti-tour workshop, a group of researchers from the perspective of Anthropology, while attempting to open decolonial methodologies of research, narrative, writing, and interaction with/in the neighborhoods of the city, also brought to light a reflexive view of anti-tour as a form of collaboration within the group.

The anti-tour workshop that started from the neighborhoods of Ano Poli and culminated at the Jewish monument of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, bore the characteristics of a pilgrim procession in the neighborhoods of the excluded, the absent, and the forgotten from the dominant national narratives of the sovereign Greek state in the northern Greek public space since 1912. We followed the modality of the Epitaph that even today wanders around these neighbourhoods, including stops, narrations and performative testimonies in churches, mausoleums, baths, cemeteries, peculiar and marginal buildings. These sacred places that had been driven to collective oblivion were brought into visibility/life through narratives and performances about charismatic saints and dervishes, everyday women and subaltern bodies, blessed materialities, and other beings, from the world of the dead and the uncanny, inside/outside the walls. Employing decolonial methodologies that trace materialities, humble bodies and popular imagination on occasion, we attempted to subvert linear chronological narratives in the history of the city. As we explored religiosity beyond the boundaries of orthopraxy (intrareligious testimonies), we insisted on the co-articulation of materialities and subaltern bodies.

We joined the palimpsest of spatio-representative narratives in different spatio-temporal contexts through performative practices that highlighted aspects of pilgrimage at the pilgrimage sites/monuments. Utilizing a multi-sensory approach, we tried to produce knowledge through different experiences of corporeality and performances such as dramaturgical recitations, soundscapes, tactilities, and smells that recalled “what has been,” and tastes that gained new meaning in past occasions and spaces. Through this collage (assemblage/rasanblaj) of narrative practices, performed ritually, we sought not only a counter-narrative of the history of the city’s neighborhoods but also, by conversing with other creatures and worlds, we tried to fortuitously bring back enchantment to the everyday life of the neighborhood.

Etnographies of the Caucasus. Female Genalogies and Multimodal Methodology

Basic Research-Cycle H’, Research Commitee University of Macedonia, 2023-2024

Eleni Sideri Principal Investigator
Three generations of women-creators of Georgian cinema belonging to the same family will form the basis for this research which aims to highlight the concept of memory and history through lived experiences and artistic creation as well as their conceptualization through the category of genealogy. Second, by priming a female genealogy, from grandmother to granddaughter, in an area of patriarchal social organization such as the Caucasus, research will shed light on the ways in which genealogy can be produced over or in addition to substantive and biological constraints and reasons, through imaginative ways of artistic creation in conversation with other European currents and networks despite the ideological anchorings of the Cold War or the regional inequalities resulting from post-socialist Europeanization. Thirdly, the research will explore the concept of the auteur which, since the 1960s, has been identified with a transnational film production, ‘European cinema’, which penetrated the ideological wall of the Cold War, but had clear gender and class characteristics. It will also examine how these three female creators enrich and expand the concept of the creator as gendered historical and artistic subjects producing new social and cultural interpretations. Finally combining, through multimodality, different research methods (bibliographic research, interviews, film analysis, autobiographical texts etc.) the limits of ethnography will be explored in relation to a story that penetrates the past of ideological walls to talk about the present of Europeanization and Europeanness. The research will seek answers indicatively to the following:

1. In what mnemonic/material/emotional ways are female genealogies reproduced?

2. In what ways do these genealogies produce the concept of territory that is often used to frame a framework for analyzing historical experiences and cultural memory?

3. How does multimodal ethnography that combines discourse, film footage, and lived experiences weave between fiction and ethnographic narrative and how can it bring to the surface discourses, memories, and feelings that have been marginalized from national memory and history?


The members of the Culture-Borders-Gender Laboratory, associate professor in Social Anthropology Dr Ioannis Manos and Dr Georgia Rina, participate in the HORIZON project titled “CHALLENGES AND INNOVATIVE CHANGES IN RESEARCH ETHICS REVIEWS [CHANGER].” This cutting-edge project started in January 2024 and will finish in December 2027, it has no sibling projects and is set to transform the landscape of research ethics fundamentally. CHANGER is designed to promote innovative changes in research ethics reviews, enhancing the ability of researchers and Research Ethics Committees (RECs) to navigate the ethical dimensions of new technologies and research practices. The overarching objective is to:
– Strengthen researchers’ capacities in ethical decision-making; 
– Support RECs in addressing emerging challenges; 
-Train ethics experts; 
-Inform policy decisions to ensure research aligns with ethical standards.
We collaborate with a diverse team of specialists comprising social, biomedical, and natural sciences ethics experts. Our partners are or have been RECs members in both EU and non-EU countries, members of National Ethics Councils/Committees worldwide, and external ethics experts for the European Commission.  

Research action-field exercise (December 2023)

Public Anthropology and Critical Ethnography. Folk Rituals in the province of Drama and the challenges of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, run by the  Culture-Borders-Gender/LAB in collaboration with the Educational Cultural Association of Kalambaki-Drama (Pr. Athanasia Theodoridou). Research team: F. Tsibiridou (Scientificly Responsible), D.Kataiftsis, N. Manola, A. Mitropanou

“From Popular Markets to Family Businesses and to Russian Markets: an Horizontal Economy of the ‘Poor’ as a Survival Strategy of the Returnees from the Former Soviet Union from mid-80s until Today”

This research examines the economic networks of the Greek post-soviet migrants in Thessaloniki and the various ways they affect (and are affected by) mobility and migration practices, as well as the formations and deformations of previous and newer diasporic communities.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union more than 150.000 Greek natives migrated to Greece (or “returned” according to the official narrative),  in an effort to rebuild their lives from zero in the “homeland of their ancestors”. From 1990’s until the beginning of the new millennium, These migrants were involved in various commercial activities (mainly inside informal economic zones and thanx to loose state control) often implicating transnational mobility. The fur market, the tourist industry, the construction sector, and the open-popular markets become a privileged field of employment and business activity, on which Russophone post-soviet Greeks find a place through hard work and the appropriate kinship or diasporic networks. Despitethe fact that, among them, Greece was considered as the “final patria”, transnational practices never stopped to take placein both collective and individual levels; Germany, UK, Cyprus, proved to be favorable destinations who welcomed, at least temporarily, several post-soviet populations including Greeks.The Greek crisis of 2010, followed by the worsening of living conditions, increased (re)migration tendencies to western Europe along with return practices to southern Russia.

The objective of this research, based on semi-directed interviews and extended fieldwork in acompany owned by post-soviet entrepreneurs, was to explore the interaction between migration strategies, economic networks and diasporic communities, and the same time, to put into scrutiny several stereotypes around “Greekness” or “Ponticness” based on the myth of the “final” and “eternal”patria.Finally, the quest for the linkages between the “rise and fall” of specific economic sectors over time, and the post-soviet mobility, through the Greek example, reveals various economic and migrating practices embedded into the social and cultural norms of the diasporic communities.

The research was accomplished by the post doc researchers Dimitris Kataiftsis and Anastasios Grigorakis and was supervised by the Professor of the academic department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies Eftihia Voutira.

“This research is co-financed by Greece and the European Union (European Social Fund-ESF) through the Operational Programme «Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning 2014-2020”

Πληροφορίες ένταξης πράξης ΕΣΠΑ: https://empedu.gov.gr/decision/apo-tis-laikes-agores-stis-oikogeneiakes-epicheiriseis-sta-russian-markets-mia-orizontia-oikonomia-ton-quot-ftochon-quot-os-stratigiki-epiviosis-ton-epanapatristhenton-apo-tin-proin-essd-apo-ta-mesa-t/

TRANSCA, Translating Socio-Cultural Anthropology into Education

TRANSCA is a European initiative/Erasmus+ project that champions the integration of social anthropology into education to address pressing societal concerns, such as diversity, immigration, and socio-economic disparities. The project’s primary goals encompass bridging teacher education with socio-cultural anthropology, instilling key anthropological insights into teacher education, and innovatively addressing the complexities of classroom diversity. Essential to TRANSCA is introducing reflexive anthropological methods, enhancing educators’ understanding of their students’ lived experiences. Collaborating with prominent institutions across Greece, Denmark, Austria, and Croatia, TRANSCA emphasizes partnerships with Teacher Colleges and related associations. Key deliverables include a “Whitebook” of best practices, a concept manual, and a suite of teaching resources, all hosted on a sustainable digital platform. Ultimately, TRANSCA aspires to augment social inclusion in European education, propelling social cohesion across the continent.
See the project’s webpage and final deliverables: https://transca.net/en/index

Performing Ashura in Piraeus: Towards a Shiite poetics of ‘cultural intimacy’ with Greek embodied practices of religiosity

The research examines the ritual of Ashura, as it is performed by the Pakistani Shia community in Piraeus. Ashura is the day of mourning for the martyrdom of Imam Husayn: the Prophet’s grandson and 3rd Imam who led a revolt against the Omayyad caliph Yazid A, and was finally beheaded in the battle of Karbala in 680 AD. This battle provides the central narrative around which Shia Muslims construct their political identity as migrants and their religious identification as a minority vis-à-vis Sunni Muslims in Greece. Ashura is commemorated every year through rituals of lamentation and public processions that include, in some cases, self-flagellation.

A decontextualized focus on the act of self-flagellation, over-accentuated by the mass media, reinforces local stereotypes of the Shia community practices as ‘incompatible’ with Greek cultural values. Social representations of the Shiite as ‘barbaric Others’ are frequently evoked in public debate in order to support Islamophobic and racialised narratives of anti-cosmopolitanism. However, confronted with xenophobia and social estrangement, the Shiite systematically attempt to articulate counter-narratives of ‘cultural intimacy’ (Herzfeld 2005) that stress the similarities between their ritual lament and various embodied performances of faith from the Greek cultural context, such as the Tinos pilgrimage (Dubisch 1996) or the Anastenaria (Danforth 1989).

The proposed research has a threefold purpose. First, it documents the community’s political struggle to promote discursively and practically a multicultural vision of citizenship based on embodied and affective components of subjectivity. Second, it unravels the rich meta-symbolic character the Ashura assumes in a migratory context, becoming an idiom or expressing and negotiating feelings of loss associated with migration trajectories. Third, departing from the case of the Ashura, but also opening-up the research focus through other examples of performances of lament, it examines how the claim to cultural intimacy is re-articulated in contemporary artistic practices, focusing on the performing arts.

More informations: https://www.rchumanities.gr/en/omada-chatziprokopiou-tsibiridou/