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ABSTRACT

MULTICULTURAL UPHEAVAL IN GREECE
AGAPI KANDYLAKI - KOMOTINI

 

Multiculturalism, although not a new phenomenon in most European countries, has only recently been truly accepted as a reality in the Western world. While post-modernism was a central discourse in social sciences in the 1980s, multiculturalism has become the dominant discourse in the 1990s and early 21st century. This presentation attempts to critically review the literature on multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is examined here not only as a question of difference between cultures or "identity politics", but also as a concept characterized by obscurity and confusion. As the relevant literature continues to expand, the term "multiculturalism" becomes even more complicated. As a result, the combination of "multiculturalism" and "globalization", two dominant concepts at the dawn of the 21st century, has become both contradictory and fascinating. In the presentation, this situation is illustrated by an exploration of the Greek case, which is of particular interest for a number of reasons: First, Greece has traditionally been an immigration country, but has started receiving large inflows of immigrants and refugees since the 1980s.  Secondly, Greece is a country that has proudly proclaimed its "homogeneity" and a Christian Orthodox identity for the majority of its population with an ethnocentric discourse, which has in turn led to xenophobia and racism against the "danger within" as represented by the culturally different communities. Thirdly, the region of Thrace in Northern Greece is the area where the only officially recognized minority exists. It is interesting to discuss, therefore, how a number of socio-economic and political changes may have led to slowly evolving societal changes, the most radical of which might be the recognition of Thrace as a "multicultural area" in a "multicultural state".

 

 
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