Reciting the future: Border relocations and everyday speculations in two Greek border regions

Sarah F. Green


Using ethnographic research from two different historical periods and border regions of Greece—the Greek–Albanian border in Epirus, in the northwestern mainland, during the 1990s, and the Greek–Turkish border in the north Aegean in the 2000s—this article explores how talk about what might happen next contributes toward the continual process of relocating borders. A comparison between them demonstrates that the specific historical moment and the different iconic significance of the two border regions mattered considerably in people’s speculations about what might happen next. As such, the stories form part of the historically contingent process of giving borders certain qualities. This article focuses on the way these accounts combine stereotypical with personal stories about the past, bringing widely known, and often ideologically inflected, commentaries that are recited almost by rote together with more personal stories about people’s experiences. The article suggests that such recitations both perform and reiterate stereotypical and ideological positions, which locate people politically, socially, and in relation to the border—and which also define the qualities of border. The more personal stories act as a contrast, or complement, to these recitations, locating people in their own relations, and highlighting the way borders are multiply qualified places.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau2.1.007