Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Migration and discrimination in Greece.

Study trips are part of the curriculum here at the ISS - we get a week off in May to go to any country in or nearby Europe to well, learn! Preferably about issues related to our own specialisation, but of course issues are always interdisciplinary and in our case, we ended up learning a lot about migration and specifically, migration in the Grecian context, while things happened 'live' around us.

A whole new alphabet
Greek salad on my menu... every day.
Instead of a blow-by-blow account of what we did each day (might be fascinating to some, but we really did a lot), I'll highlight some of the things that I remember the best, for various reasons, especially now that I've had almost two weeks to let all the events digest.

Greek policeman checking a random man's papers
Many shops indicating owners from
Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan in our neighbourhood
Greece has no official or systematic immigration policy - the most important thing I learnt from our first meeting with iRED, a research institute established in 2008, that focuses on issues of migration and discrimination against social minorities in Greece.

In the last 20 years, Greece has seen huge numbers of immigrants from Albania, Asia and the Middle East entering for employment, and they were recognised as contributors.

The day we arrived, 10 May 2011, a 44-year-old Greek citizen was "stabbed" by three "thieves" or "robbers". The attackers were described as "three dark-skinned men, possibly foreign nationals". Notice that dark-skinned = foreign = immigrants. This incident happened in the area we were staying (and even nearer to the other ISS group).

Sadly, this gave the Greek Right-wing (as represented by G. Karatzaferis of the Popular Orthodox Rally) a chance to call for the "deportation of all illegal migrants". You can read more about immigration in Greece in this paper here.

A few days later, a "clash" was planned between the Right and the Left, with the police to intervene in between, so we decided it was best to get back to the hostel before dark, and stay there.

Modernity also wants to clash...
with ancient history in Athens

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