Imagining Homeland: Identity and Repertories of a Greek Labour-immigrant Musician in Germany

Smaragdi Boura


Migration has always played an important and determinative role in the formation of the Greek life-cycle, since the existence of a Greek Diaspora originates back to the institution of the Greek nation. However, whether the migration phenomenon represents a typical and integral part of the Greek cultural tradition or mentality, or appears as a forced consequence of specific economic or political circumstances, it should be pointed out that it has proved to be a transformative factor for the lives of people involved in it. The fate of "metanastes" (immigrants) and the life in "xenitia" (foreign host land) appear to be a very common and prominent topic elaborated in the poetic texts of the Greek "dimotika tragoudia" (traditional songs) and "laika tragoudia" (folk-popular songs). Through these repertoires, music reveals its power in conveying and symbolically communicating and expressing public notions, feelings and cultural messages that acquire a particular significance for immigrant communities. Furthermore, diasporic music—along with dance—constitutes one of the basic components of the immigrant's cultural heritage, representing: an expressive way of maintaining cultural identity; a fixed, however metaphorical, conjunctional link between the mother country and the host land; and, a fundamental context through which the migratory community identifies or reconstitutes itself in relation to the majority and other surrounding groups. The author uses fieldwork from a year spent amongst Greek immigrant communities in the Stuttgart region of Germany to address and reflect on issues around the role of music in identity construction and the way in which this connects with processes of integration, assimilation and transnationalism. Specifically, the paper explores the multiple identities and repertories of a Greek musician in Germany, by focusing on several aspects of the musician's life-portrait and providing both emic and etic interpretations. This single case study is used to highlight broader relations between migration, settlement and minority-majority identity dynamics.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0603109


diaspora; transculturation; Greek music; emic/etic interpretation

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