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Forget homi! creolization, omogéneia, and the Greek diaspora

Stewart, C; (2006) Forget homi! creolization, omogéneia, and the Greek diaspora. Diaspora , 15 (1) pp. 61-88.

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Abstract

An early colonial model of creolization asked whether migrants to the New World underwent such drastic denaturing as to no longer be considered trustworthy compatriots. Homelands and their overseas colonies actively debated the moral meaning of change. In this essay, this structural model of creolization is applied to understand the relationship between the Greek state and its diaspora in the United States. That relationship has been governed by the ethnonationalist concept of omogéneia, which means "of the same génos or ancestry" but also "homogeneity." In the twentieth century, omogeneis referred mainly to ethnic Greeks born and raised abroad and not possessing Greek citizenship. The idea of ethnic homogeneity became increasingly hard to sustain as Greek-Americans lost linguistic and cultural competence. The structural model of creolization guides the exploration of Greek homeland-diaspora negotiations of cultural and linguistic change in the American case. Greek-Americans are both ethnic Americans and diaspora Greeks at the same time. Although hybridity and creolization have been held up in postcolonial studies (e.g., Homi Bhabha) as productive of creative political agency, this study reveals a troubled dimension of creolization in the Greek diaspora. Omogéneia has implicitly become an othering term for those who are not linguistically and culturally competent according to homeland models and standards. A word that initially extended a welcome to ethnic Greeks left behind in Ottoman lands at independence in 1832 is now crumbling under the weight of its own contradictions. © 2010 Diaspora: a journal of transnational studies.

Type: Article
Title: Forget homi! creolization, omogéneia, and the Greek diaspora
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences
UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/81448
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