Serbs in Greece - The national identity of the new emigrants Cover Image

Срби y Грчкој - Прилог проучавању националног идентитета нових емиграната
Serbs in Greece - The national identity of the new emigrants

Author(s): Aleksandra Pavićević
Subject(s): Cultural Anthropology / Ethnology, Migration Studies, Identity of Collectives
Published by: Етнографски институт САНУ
Keywords: emigration; church; identity;
Summary/Abstract: The goal of this paper is to present the interim results achieved in the research of the Serbian emigre community in Greece, to define the structure and layers of this grouping, and to trace the strategy of shaping its national identity. In spite of the advanced historic and cultural ties between Serbia and Greece, large-scale emigration waves of Serbia’s population to Greece coincided with the onset of crises in the former SFRY territory. During the course of this investigation, the exact numbers of the Serbs present in Greece were unknown to the Greek authorities, just as they were unknown to the staffs of the Yugoslav and Bosnian embassies. At the time, there was only 1,200 registered FRY citizens, but the assessments of the actual state of play ranged from 4,000 to 20,000. The difference serves as a powerful evidence of illegal status of the Serb emigrants in Greece, and of their own attitude to the Yugoslav embassy, which they regarded as an outpost of the communist regime, and therefore shunned with distrust. The representatives of the contemporary Serbian diaspora in Greece (i.e. the immigrants from the 1970s onwards) may be classified in two bigger groups and in several subgroups. The first group consists of a senior generation which includes a certain number of well-know n Serbian athletes, doctors, businessmen, journalists, and artists, whose families already have a second generation of grown-up descendants. The second group is made up of more recent settlers (that is, from the 1990s onwards). It may be subdivided according to the reason for emigration, although the economic-social-political background is common to all: a) refugees and exiles from the former Yugoslav republics, who decided to resettle for reasons of economic misery and because it was impossible for them to solve their legal status in Serbia, b) FRY citizens whose reason for emigration may be summed up by the well-known Serbian saying “with one’s belly after bread”, c) several families of “political” emigrants from the time which required an “acceptability” in term s of the Yugoslav communist party ideas; looking for the norm al conditions of living and professional growth, they emigrated to western Europe; then, with the falling apart o f the SFRY and the growing unpopularity and stigmatization of the “ Serbian mame” in the western European countries, they decided to move “to a country where we are loved”, d) students, e) sportsmen. Mention should be made here also of the so called “Serbian mafia” as a separate group, which, according to the well-informed sources, has settled for the most part in the exclusive quarters of Athens. However, as we have no reliable data on their existence, this emigration layer will not be discussed. The body of the Serbian emigration in Greece has features different from those characterizing the so called guest-workers who used to emigrate from the former SFRY to the western European countries. The Serbian emigration in Greece may be described as having a dual character, shaped primarily by the events of the contemporary Yugoslav history. Cosmopolitism, on the one hand, and the aspirations to create the elements of national identity, on the other, do not necessarily have to contradict each other. Their reconciliation is exactly possible in an environment like that of Greece, as may be readily exemplified by the religious symbols.

  • Page Range: 329-338
  • Page Count: 10
  • Publication Year: 2003
  • Language: Serbian