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Greece in the Eye of the Cyclone: An Inside Perspective

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1. Thursday, 11  February 2016, 16:00

Dr. Maria Alvanou,

 Nationalism”/“far right” in Modern Greek history: financial crisis and ideology.



The presentation is a result of relevant personal research concerning "far-right/nationalism" in Greece, the reasons/settings for its appearance and the effects of its manifestation in Greek society.  It focuses in two instances/periods: The Ioannis Metaxas August 4th Regime (just before World War II) and today (with the rise in popularity of this ideological/political stream raising concerns globally). There will be an analysis of how events and developments in national history (for example tragic war defeats, reduction or loss of forms of national sovereignty, political turbulence etc…) and especially financial crisis have influenced the appearance of far-right/nationalism. Rhetoric, ideology, the issue of antisemitism, political organization and recruitment of sympathizers, the use of violence will be among the main parameters highlighted. It will also be argued how the Ioannis Metaxas Regime period has influenced modern manifestations of nationalism in Greece.

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2. Thursday, 10 March 2016, 16:00

Prof. George Mavrogordatos, University of Athens

"The Present Crisis in Greece as a Failure of Education"


The public educational system of Modern Greece has never corresponded to the actual needs of the economy. To change this, the most determined and thorough effort was undertaken in 1928-32 by the government of Eleftherios Venizelos. After its fall, the reform was nullified and was never attempted again. Already during the dictatorship of 1967-74, public education entered a period of uninterrupted decline which continues until today. Meritocracy and excellence have been pushed aside. Under the impact of populism, later disguised as “democratization,” what emerged and predominates is a culture of irresponsibility, levelling, least effort, and cheating. In elementary and secondary education, the evaluation of teaching and teachers has actually ceased since the early 1980s. Their privileges and undeterred offenses have grown thanks to their powerful unions and their blackmail. The situation is even more hopeless in higher education, where violence by small minorities continues to prevail and block any change. Increasingly, the youth of Greece are not only unemployed, but also unemployable. They become also increasingly prone to reward irresponsibility in politics and be attracted by the falsehoods of fascists. The best, however, emigrate and excel abroad, draining the country of the brains it needs most.

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3. Wednesday, 13 April 2016, 16:00

Dr. Angel Chorapchiev, University of Haifa

An unhappy family. Europe and the Greek crisis


The Greek debt crisis has exposed growing controversies between the countries in the euro zone. Unless addressed and solved soon, they could have serious consequences mainly for EU’s main project - the European monetary union. A compromise on Greece only between Germany and France would no longer be sufficient to settle the problems. Greeks, but also Italians and French feel the euro zone lacks the solidarity and economic stimulus it should have, while east and central European states are growing more assertive with Germans, but also Finns, Dutch, Slovaks and Balts not willing to spend their own taxpayers' money to rescue Greece. The future will show if the EU can manage the current crisis, and if it can, probably it will come out only stronger and more stable.

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4.Sunday, 8 May 2016, 16:00

Dr. Areti Demosthenes, Institute of Historical Research for Peace, Cyprus

Refugee and financial crisis in Greece at a time of Globalization: A threat to the Hellenic Values?

Globalization has been functioning on a social level like a ‘thunderstorm’: limitless spread of information, competition in all levels, migration without borders and open market. In addition, the refugee crisis emphasized the financial one since to deal with refugee problems in Europe huge amounts of money are required. Not to forget, the millennium started with debate on multiculturalism, and schools having accepted emigrants from nearly all over the world, had to modify their teaching methods more appropriate for culturally diverse school populations. This presentation will address the following questions: Do Greek citizens who are naturally exposed to this situation, feel citizens of their own Nation-state or citizens of a global village, the planet Earth? Can the global village deal with the problems of its citizens, who are so huge in numbers and so different in character and culture? In what extent Hellenic values may exist or even co-exist with other? In modern terms, nationalism (ethnikismos) is a word derived from ethnos (nation) and is a Greek term expressing high admiration for one’s own nation. Although the term ethnos did not exist in ancient Greece, the debate regarding the relations of all those who were citizens of Athens (Athineoi) with all others who did not share the Greek education and culture (barbaroi) is amazingly similar to the current discussion of the treatment of illegal immigrants and war refugees even thousands years later (Plato, Politeia - The Republic, E 470C 1-7). In ancient Greece there was the term (filopolis) meaning “adherence and love to one’s own town” (Plato, Politeia, E 470D 8).

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5. Tuesday, 10 May 2016, 20:00

Dr. Areti Demosthenes, Institute of Historical Research for Peace, Cyprus

Refugee and financial crisis in Greece at a time of Globalization: A threat to the Hellenic Values?"

Globalization has been functioning on a social level like a ‘thunderstorm’: limitless spread of information, competition in all levels, migration without borders and open market. In addition, the refugee crisis emphasized the financial one since to deal with refugee problems in Europe huge amounts of money are required. Not to forget, the millennium started with debate on multiculturalism, and schools having accepted emigrants from nearly all over the world, had to modify their teaching methods more appropriate for culturally diverse school populations. This presentation will address the following questions: Do Greek citizens who are naturally exposed to this situation, feel citizens of their own Nation-state or citizens of a global village, the planet Earth? Can the global village deal with the problems of its citizens, who are so huge in numbers and so different in character and culture? In what extent Hellenic values may exist or even co-exist with other? In modern terms, nationalism (ethnikismos) is a word derived from ethnos (nation) and is a Greek term expressing high admiration for one’s own nation. Although the term ethnos did not exist in ancient Greece, the debate regarding the relations of all those who were citizens of Athens (Athineoi) with all others who did not share the Greek education and culture (barbaroi) is amazingly similar to the current discussion of the treatment of illegal immigrants and war refugees even thousands years later (Plato, Politeia - The Republic, E 470C 1-7). In ancient Greece there was the term (filopolis) meaning “adherence and love to one’s own town” (Plato, Politeia, E 470D 8).

 

6. Wednesday, 16 March 2016, 20:00

Dr. Anggeliki Koumanoudis, University of Haifa

“Greece today? A success story!”. The Greek society revisited through its satirical songs

If in most languages the Greek term “crisis” has with time acquired the meaning “an urgent and serious situation”, “an unpleasant and extraordinary event”, in Greek the word still carries the ancient meaning of  “choice”, “judgment” and “criticism” as well.

            Indeed, this current crisis, this “urgent and serious situation” in which Greece is today, contains in it, as well, a sense that time has come for judgment, for criticism and, generally, for the expression of dismay and frustration. Satirical songs embody such needs and demands perfectly, requiring no particular skills or artistic pretentions apart from a good dose of humor both from the creator and the audience.

Songs with comic sociopolitical content are not new among Greeks. They have been known even before the foundation of the Modern Greek state, and have always been privileged by the people, particularly in periods of crisis. They are in fact to be categorized as a sub-genre of what is known as “Greek political songs”. Since antiquity, “satire”, “parody”, “comedy” are terms related to entertainment and amusement but also to the freedom of speech and to democracy. Defying, by their nature, moral codes and ethical limits, satirical songs play an active part in challenging authorities and awakening public awareness and individual consciousness, thus time and time again becoming subject to censorship as well. On the other hand, the intellectual elite and the ruling class, having categorized them as low quality, considered them unimportant and unworthy. That same attitude let certain popular songs, perceived by the public as containing double messages and insinuations, slip censorship and become famous.

            This lecture will examine how the “unofficial” Greek public opinion deals with the current situation by scrutinizing songs whose content deals with sociopolitical matters in a comic way. How do Greek people consider the conditions in which their country is? Who are they putting the blame on? How do the Greeks see themselves?  How do they see their life today? What do they sing in the tavernas? on the radio? or in social medias? Who were the Cassandras warning the Greeks about what was about to fall on them before the current crisis? How do their voices resonate today?