Re-Bordering the Nation: Neoliberalism and Racism in Rural Greece
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Over the last several decades, rural Greek society has undergone rapid changes. In large part these changes are due to two interrelated developments: the integration of Greece into the European Union and the arrival of large numbers of Eastern European migrant laborers. Social organization in Greek villages has been influenced by global systems of production and exchange for hundreds of years, if not longer, but since the early 1980’s, with the accession of Greece into the European Union, these relations seem to have been altered in novel ways. As Greece has become integrated into the transnational and global markets through the E.U., social relations are increasingly shaped by a pervasive global trend toward neoliberalism, that is, by a new round of market liberalization that has in effect redefined the way that local communities and international markets interact. This change has had a profound effect on the ways that rural Greeks participate in international markets as both producers and consumers. A related development, in fact a by-product of neoliberal policies in the formerly socialist countries of Eastern Europe, is the introduction of large numbers of immigrant laborers into rural Greece, which has significantly altered rural labor markets and allowed for important changes in patterns of the social reproduction of labor. While these changes have been for the most part not of their own making, except perhaps in an indirect way, Greek agriculturalists are not hapless victims in these developments. Globalization has indeed brought changes to rural society, but not exactly in the ways that policy-makers or others with a “top -- down” perspective have imagined. During ethnographic fieldwork that I conducted in several Greek villages between 2000 and 2004 I found that rural people have engaged these changes in the global political economy through an active process of adaptation, manipulation, resistance and accommodation. Here I will focus on changes in the mobilization of labor and the production of national identity, and the relationship between the two. I will argue that there has been a transformation in how national identities are being produced within the new configuration of nation and state that has important implications for understanding how inequality is structured and reproduced under global capitalism.
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