Cite as: Papataxiarchis, E., 2018, "Pragmatism against austerity: Greek society, politics and ethnography in times of trouble", in D. Dalakoglou and G. Agelopoulos (eds)., Critical Times in Greece: Anthropological Engagements with the Crisis, Oxon, New York: Routledge.
1 Words in trouble: multiple temporalities, alternative paradigms
(i) Making sense of the Greek ‘crisis’
Greece is in trouble. Its public ﬁnances, its ‘labour market’, its democratic institutions, its social state, its major political parties, and, most important, its people – the elderly pensioners and the young graduates, those at the margins and those at the centre, the multitude of the unemployed and the precariat, the lower and middle social strata – have been for some time now and still are in trouble. The economy has reached the threshold of collapse, the political system is in a state of instability, society is in ﬂux and the country has experienced an unprecedented uncertainty for several years now. The chapters in this theoretically diverse and methodologically variant collective volume offer a rich and multifaceted anthropological account of the effects of the current redicament on Greek people, society and polity. They explore the breakdown of the middle classes and the emergence of the ‘new poor’ (Panourgiá, but also Arapoglou et al. 2015), the institutional malaise and the deep legitimation crisis that transﬁgures mainstream politics (Kallianos), the ‘migration/refugee crisis’ (Green) and the violence that it generates (Tsimouris and Moore) and the collapse of the dividing line between the ofﬁcial and the unofﬁcial and the new forms of protest that it engenders (Bampilis, but also Papataxiarchis 2014c) They discuss the blurring of boundaries between the emergent social forms – the informal collective ‘initiatives’, the Facebook collectivities or the NGOs – and the ideological muddle that arises out of the mix of opposites – of ‘pure deology’ with pragmatic concerns, of anti-consumerism with consumerism (Chatzidakis), of anti-hierarchical solidarity with philanthropy and the idiom of gift (Rozakou, but also Theodossopoulos 2016). They also address the semantic confusion between the spontaneous and the strategic responses to the current predicament, between the disinterested offer and the interested labour (Rakopoulos), the increasing mixture of politics with morality and the gene ralized moral reframing of politics (Gkintidis), the recourse to metaphysical means of empowerment (Sutton, but also Bakalaki 2016 and Yalouri 2016) and the mental state of ‘national depression’ that pervades every corner of the country (Apostolidou, but also Davis 2015).
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