Centre for the Study of South Eastern Europe

Conferences :- Friends and Foes

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Friends and foes: Greek views of Turkey in everyday life, memory and imagination
St Peter’s College, University of Oxford. May 11, 2002.

This conference will bring together anthropological contributions on everyday images of the Turks and Turkey in Greece and Cyprus.
Our aims are:

  • To examine informal attitudes to the Greco-Turkish relationship

  • To compare views about the Turks and Turkey from various parts of the Greek speaking world

  • To reveal some of the underlying features of Greek nationalism and Greek identity as these are negotiated in relation to the ethnic Other. Papers that focus on Turkish perceptions of the Greeks are also invited.

The conference will explore critically the cultural boundaries of the categories ‘Greek’ and ‘Turk’, shedding some light on the different sets of meaning attached to those terms in different social contexts. The existing ethnographic record suggests that various social groups in Greece and Cyprus articulate diverse, and often contradictory, views about the people of Turkey. In this respect, the notion of the ‘Turk’ stands as representative of various kinds of ideas about Otherness. These ideas are expressed in daily conversation either as negative and confrontational stereotypes or as intimate and familiar associations. In either case perceptions of the Other provide the conceptual framework for defining and negotiating ethnic identity at the local, national and international level.

The papers presented in the conference will document culturally specific ways of perceiving the Turks and Turkey, mostly drawing on in-depth ethnographic studies and qualitative information. Their contributions will focus on topics such as:

  • Evaluations of the recent politics of Greco-Turkish friendship of middle-class citizens in Patras [Dimitrios Theodossopoulos, St Peter’s College, University of Oxford].

  • The exchange of humanitarian aid in the earthquakes of 1999 [Susanna Hoffman, Fulbright fellow USA].

  • Asia Minor accounts of peaceful co-existence in Anatolia [Renee Hirschon, St Peter’s College, University of Oxford].

  • The bi-communal movement in Cyprus [Peter Loizos, London School of Economics],
    attitudes towards Turkey as expressed by a group of Greek activists and intellectuals in Komotini [Fotini Tsipiridou, University of Thrace].

  • The views of low rank army officers in Greece towards Turkey [Elisabeth Kirtsoglou, University of Wales Lampeter].

  • Perceptions of Turkey and the Ottoman past of a Macedonian community [Lina Sistani, University of Wales Lampeter].

  • The meaning and position of Turkey in Cypriot conceptualisations of the East and the West [Vassos Argyrou, University of Hull].

  • Perceptions of Northern Cypriots towards the people of Turkey [Y. Navaro-Yashin, University of Cambridge].

  • Perceptions of the Turks and Turkey in northwestern Greece [Jane Cowan, University of Sussex].

  • The image of the Turk in Greek textbooks, literature and historiography [Iraklis Millas].

  • Greek-Cypriot elementary school children and their understanding of Turkey and the Turks [Spyros Spyrou, Cyprus College].

  • Officially-endorsed performances of multiculturalism in Thrace and the perception of the Other [Vassiliki Yiakoumaki, Columbia University].

  • Guarding Each Others' Dead; Mourning One's Own. The Problem of Missing Persons and Missing Pasts in Cyprus [Paul Sant Cassia, University of Durham].

The papers presented at the conference will be published in an edited volume focusing on the image of the Turks and Turkey in Greece and Cyprus. The volume will make available informal views of the ethnic Other as revealed in particular social settings and examine the relevance of these views in the construction of ethnic stereotypes and national identity. It will thus contribute greatly towards expanding our existing knowledge of attitudes and the cultural matrix that informs mutual understanding in inter-ethnic relationships and communication.

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