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Visual Resources in the Teaching of Modern Greece

Popular culture – blogs, videos, films, magazines, newspaper, etc. – may serve as valuable resource in undergraduate teaching. Used in conjunction with writings in the humanities and the social sciences, the analysis of popular culture in the classroom offers several advantages. For one, it demonstrates the value of academic research to help students make sense of and think critically about the cultural products they routinely consume as part of their leisure and entertainment. This strategy brings the humanities closer to the students’ lives.

I list below and classify by subject popular-culture resources that have been useful in my teaching. It is my hope that those teaching courses on modern Greece will benefit from this resource and in turn contribute to this discussion. The list will be updated annually.


The City at a Time of Crisis: Tracing and researching crisis-ridden public spaces in Athens, Greece: blog
  • Video Documentary – Athens in Crisis and Graffiti

“In May 2011, hundreds of thousands of Greeks swarmed into Syntagma Square in Athens to protest against the firesale of their country, their labor rights and their livelihoods to corrupt domestic elites and foreign financial interests.

In a matter of days, a protest camp was set up -- organized on the principles of direct democracy, leaderless self-management and mutual aid -- providing a glimpse of utopia in the midst of a devastating financial, political and social crisis. On June 28-29, during a Parliamentary vote on further austerity measures, the state finally responded with brutal force, eventually evicting the protesters from the square and crushing the radical potential of their social experiment...”

Η Εξαφανισμένη Αθήνα, μέσω της βιογραφικής ματιάς του Ν. Βαλαωρίτη
  • “Diadromes” A journey across time and space, Athens neighborhoods and sites (video in Greek). 
  • Μικροπόλεις: Κυψέλη / Το Υπόγειο, (video in Greek)
  • Architecture - Neoclassical Buildings (destruction of): Indispensable photographic and visual resource, which includes a database of contemporary monuments and the documentary “Here is Athens ... the city before” (circa 1980): Archaeology of the City of Athens
  • Immigration, gentrification, multiculturalism, Metaxourgio documentary (with English subtitles)
  • Immigrants in Athens documentary (narrative in English, cross-listed with “Immigrants in Greece”)
  • Antiracism short film


Economic Crisis–Rural Greece CNN report (produced in May 2010, aired in December 15, 2010)


  • Returning to the village at a time of crisis (επιτσροφή στο χωριό λόγω κρίσης), CreteTV news (in Greek)
  • Customs: The ritual shaving of the groom and fertility rites on the bridal bed: TV dramatization of M. Karagatsi's novel «10» https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk3rmdTGlNc (first two minutes)
  • For a discussion of these traditions see V. Argyrou's ethnography on weddings in Greek Cyprus
  • Zeibekiko performance and material culture, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHu60AB_2wQ

In her insightful analysis of rebetiko practices, Janet Sarbanes* brings attention to the importance of material culture in the Zeibekiko performance. 

She writes in a passage that deserves our full attention: “This is true [the zeibekiko as an articulation of relationships] not only of human relationships: occasionally the zeibekiko foregrounds the relationship between humans and objects by concentrating the dancer’s attention on a thing requiring virtuoso physical action to overcome. Thus the dance might involve ‘placing a bottle or glass of wine on the floor that [the dancer] must drink from without using his hands or... five bottles or glasses which he must dance among without touching in addition to draining their contents’ (Patrides 31). Or he might overturn a chair to balance himself on before turning it upright and sitting in it, or tumble from one chair to another—all without using his hands (Patrides 31).” She continues, “I myself have seen zeibekiko dancers in an Astoria nightclub pick up chairs and tables with their teeth, a spontaneous levitation that dramatically underscores the mutability of practices we associate with ordinary objects. In each instance, everyday things cease to function instrumentally and instead, like the buckets and brooms in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice or Chaplin’s umbrella, become adversaries or partners in the dance. In thus ‘taking on’ his immediate environment, the zeibekiko dancer may be said to participate in what Jacques Attali calls the play of composition, ‘an ongoing quest for new, immediate communication, without ritual and always unstable’ (Attali 141).”

I was delighted to find the visual above that captures this kind of communicative act, see around the 7:30 min mark.

  • Sarbanes, Janet. 2006. “Musicking and Communitas: The Aesthetic Mode of Sociality in Rebetika Subculture.” Popular Music and Society, 29:1, 17–35.
  • On Cretan Collective Improvisation http://cretancollectiveimprovisation.blogspot.com/
  • Lefkara Laces (documentary explores the history of the art and its socio-economic value

“Description: The tradition of lace-making in the village of Lefkara in southeastern Cyprus dates back to at least the fourteenth century. Influenced by indigenous craft, the embroidery of Venetian courtiers who ruled the country beginning in 1489, and ancient Greek and Byzantine geometric patterns, Lefkara lace is made by hand in designs combining four basic elements: the hemstitch, cut work, satin stitch fillings and needlepoint edgings. This combined art and social practice is still the primary occupation of women in the village who create distinctive tablecloths, napkins and show pieces while sitting together and talking in the narrow streets or on covered patios. Unique mastery of the craft is passed to young girls through years of informal exposure and then formal instruction by their mother or grandmother in applying cotton thread to linen. When she has learned her art thoroughly, the lace-maker uses her imagination to design work that embodies both tradition and her own personality. Testament to the ability to appreciate multiple influences and incorporate them into ones own culture, lace-making is at the centre of daily life for women of Lefkara and a proud symbol of their identity."
Country(ies): Cyprus
© 2008 by Lefkara Municipality / Ministry of Education and Culture

Documentary Educational Resources have created a film about an old woman from a village in Epirus. A preview is available in youtube (see link above). Kalliopi Kalogerou has spent her whole life in the Greek village of Ano Ravenia where she was born in 1900. Simple witness of the century, she lived through Turkish domination and successive occupations linked to different wars. Devoted exclusively to her life story, the result is a rich, yet austere film where nothing distracts the viewer from the dialogue and the face of the storyteller (originally posted at the MGSA listserv by Lampros F. Kallenos).


1. Cross-Cultural Wedding: ohnotanotherblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/this-american-life/

A Greek immigrant, newly arrived to the U.S., marries an American man and compares Greek and American weddings.

Topics: individualism and collectivism, religious vs. civic weddings, Greek America, Greece and the U.S., cross-cultural comparisons.

2. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Topics: Greek America, intergenerational conflict, collectivism vs individualism, traditionalism, in-group vs out-group in rural Greek culture, cross-cultural negotiations, interethnic marriage.

3. Traditional Greek Wedding in Anogia, Crete: youtube.com/watch?v=5QqBuvkJ6yg

Topics: Traditional wedding, rites of separation, wedding songs and music, wedding customs, food practices.



Global Representations – French Animation, the “Greek” as an anthropological experiment in neoliberalism


• History (Balkan) 

1) Ξεχασμένα Βαλκάνια (The Forgotten Balkans) – Ντοκιμαντέρ: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBumTqIVpMQ

ΞΕΧΑΣΜΕΝΑ ΒΑΛΚΑΝΙΑ 100 χρόνια από τους Βαλκανικούς Πολέμους.
“«Τα Ξεχασμένα Βαλκάνια» είναι ένα πρωτότυπο ντοκιμαντέρ σε σενάριο και σκηνοθεσία του Ανδρέα Αποστολίδη, βασισμένο στις πρώτες φωτογραφίες και ταινίες των Βαλκανίων. Η ταινία διερευνά τη ζωή των απλών ανθρώπων εν μέσω των δραματικών αλλαγών που μεταμόρφωσαν τα Βαλκάνια στο γύρισμα του 20ου αιώνα: στόχος της είναι να εξηγήσει πώς η συνύπαρξη διαφορετικών εθνοτικών και θρησκευτικών ομάδων κατά τη διάρκεια της Οθωμανικής Αυτοκρατορίας, έκλεισε με την άνοδο του εθνικισμού, μετά από σχεδόν τέσσερις αιώνες. «Τα Ξεχασμένα Βαλκάνια» περιλαμβάνουν σπάνιο φωτογραφικό και κινηματογραφικό υλικό απ' όλη την Ευρώπη και τα Βαλκάνια, καθώς και συνεντεύξεις με τους: Mark Mazower (Πανεπιστήμιο Columbia), Χριστίνα Κουλούρη (Πάντειο Πανεπιστήμιο, Αθήνα) Halil Berktay (Πανεπιστήμιο Sabanci, Κωνσταντινούπολη), Machiel Kiel, Irena Stefoska (Πανεπιστήμιο "St. Cyril and Methodius", Σκόπια), Radina Vucetic (Πανεπιστήμιο Βελιγραδίου), Frasher Demaj (Ινστιτούτο Ιστορίας, Πρίστινα), Alexei Kalionski (Πανεπιστήμιο της Σόφιας) και ο Δημήτρη Λιβάνιο (Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης).”


2) Δυο Φορές Ξένος - Συνθήκη της Λωζάνης


“Μέσα από μαρτυρίες και σπάνιο αρχειακό υλικό, το ντοκιμαντέρ «Δυο φορές ξένος» εστιάζει στους διωγμούς των Βαλκανίων.

Βασισμένο στο ομότιτλο βιβλίο του δημοσιογράφου Μπρους Κλαρκ, το ντοκιμαντέρ «Δυο φορές ξένος» των Ανδρέα Αποστολίδη και Γιούρι Αβέρωφ εγκαινιάζει για το 2012 το πρόγραμμα προβολών του Cine Doc στο Γαλλικό Ινστιτούτο.

Στις αρχές του 20ού αιώνα, οι περισσότεροι κάτοικοι των χωρών των Βαλκανίων ζούσαν στην «πολυεθνική» Οθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, η οποία επέτρεπε σε Χριστιανούς, Μουσουλμάνος και Εβραίους να συμβιώνουν ειρηνικά.

Ωστόσο, το 1924, αυτός ο κόσμος είχε πια καταρρεύσει. Περί τους 400.000 μουσουλμάνους εκδιώχθηκαν από την Ελλάδα, την ώρα που τουλάχιστον 1,2 εκατομμύρια έλληνες ορθόδοξοι αναγκάζονταν να εγκαταλείψουν τα σπίτια τους στην Τουρκία.

Το ντοκιμαντέρ «Δυο φορές ξένος» ξετυλίγει την ιστορία μέσα από σπάνιο αρχειακό υλικό, συνεντεύξεις με ιστορικούς και συγκλονιστικές προφορικές μαρτυρίες προσφύγων από την Ελλάδα και την Τουρκία. «Είναι μια ταινία για ανθρώπους που ξεριζώθηκαν από τα σπίτια τους, η κοινή τους εμπειρία για τις χαμένες πατρίδες: η ιστορία του να είσαι «Δύο φορές ξένος» αναφέρουν οι δημιουργοί του.

Στην ταινία εμφανίζονται μεταξύ άλλων οι Μπρους Κλαρκ (που υπήρξε επίσης επιστημονικός σύμβουλός της μαζί με τον Ιάκωβο Μιχαηλίδη), ο συγγραφέας Τζάιλς Μίλτον και οι Θάνος Βερέμης, Κωνσταντίνος Φωτιάδης, Μιλούν επίσης Έλληνες και Τούρκοι πρόσφυγες από την Κρήτη, τη Μυτιλήνη, την Καππαδοκία, τον Πόντο, τη Σμύρνη και τη Δυτική Μακεδονία.

Το ντοκιμαντέρ «Δυο φορές ξένος» είναι μια συμπαραγωγή της ΕΡΤ με την ΑΝΕΜΟΝ, σε συνεργασία με το cross-media project «ΔΥΟ ΦΟΡΕΣ ΞΕΝΟΣ».”



Risky Crossings: Immigration in Greece image

Risky Crossings: Immigration in Greece – In TIMEPhotos

Immigrants in Athens documentary (narrative in English, cross-listed with ATHENS)



Compiled by Yiorgos Anagnostou
Modern Greek Program
The Ohio State University