Should I Return as the Subaltern?: Greek Diaspora and its Linguistic Connections with Home

Author Information

Michael Hadzantonis,
SOAS, University of London, U.K.

DOI: 10.47298/comela22.1-11
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in the Mediterranean and Europe 2022


Return migration has become a phenomenon pervading much of the world. These regions largely include those countries not historically framed as immigrant contexts. However, owing to the complexity of return migration, all regions can be seen as such. Countries and regions experiencing war and periodic or temporary western domination later recover to rebuild their economies and hence, diasporic societies find reason to return, in addition to the need to reclaim and regain cultural and linguistic heritage.

This presentation addresses the current and increasing wave of return migration to Greece, from diverse diasporic contexts, yet extensively from the Global North. The return to the Greek heritage homeland is accompanied by categories of factors, spearheaded by the ideological fear of return and acceptance, and by the conceptions by heritage locals of these returnees as the foreign other. The presentation documents ideologies of both returnees and the heritage locals who either accept or reject the returnees, and grounds these conceptions in the Greek language competence of the returnees. More significantly, while returnees may have high competence in the Greek languages, such competence recedes at times when conceptions of self as a foreign other rises; Greek language competence can negatively correlate with strength of inclusion into the Greek homeland ingroup.

Keywords: Karpathos, Greece, language ideology, linguistic anthropology, entextualization, nationalism, lexicology and phraseology

Full COMELA 2022 Proceedings book