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The Archaeology of Xenitia: Greek Immigration and Material
Colloquium sponsored by the Medieval and Post-Medieval
Archaeology in Greece Interest Group
Between 1900 and 1915, one quarter of the working-age male
Greek population immigrated to the United States,
Canada and Australia. This profound
demographic phenomenon left an indelible mark on Greek society but also created
new diasporic communities in the host countries. Greek immigration is a
phenomenon of modern trans-nationalism that shares features with other
migration stories despite its unique ethnic manifestations. Xenitia, as a historical narrative, has
been studied by various disciplines, entering the popular mainstream through
movies, comedy, television, academia, museums and culinary institutions. The
historical enterprise of Greek immigration in the twentieth century, however,
has lacked a significant archaeological voice. Nevertheless, a series of recent
projects in Greece, the U.S. and Australia testify to the emergence
of an archaeological discipline tackling material culture as critical evidence
rather than mere illustration. As a major Greek-American metropolis, Chicago offers a great
opportunity to reflect upon archaeology’s contribution to the relationship
between home and host societies. This colloquium collaborates with Chicago’s Consulate General of Greece, the Hellenic Museum
and Cultural Center,
the Jane Adams
the American School
of Classical Studies at Athens and the AIA
interest group in Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology in Greece. New archaeological data
from Epeiros, Kythera, Keos, the Southern Argolid and the Nemea
Valley will highlight the effects of emigration, while data from Colorado, Philadelphia and
Sydney will illustrate
the effects of immigration. Abandoned
households were coupled with new foundations, while a fluid transmission of
moneys and resources created networks of goods and meanings far more complex than
the traditional model of assimilation, economic prosperity, or the melting-pot.
Greek archaeology played a double role in constructing native and foreign ideologies,
ranging from church foundations in the 1920s (Greek community in Philadelphia) to film productions for the war relief effort
in the 1940s (documentary produced and newly restored by the American School).
Finally, we will see how excavated ruins inform current narratives of discovery
and homecoming in a recent travel memoir that layers personal and textual lives.
Such meta-narratives (factual and idealized) reveal deep entanglements between
archaeologist and immigrant.