Aspects of Urban Ethnography in Greece, 1960-2020. The View from Folklore

Author Information

Georgios Kouzas,
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

DOI: 10.47298/comela22.3-1
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in the Mediterranean and Europe 2022

Abstract

This paper aims to describe urban folklore studies in Greece during the 20th century, through an ethnography of the field. I focus particularly on the 1950s and 1960s, because these decades were crucial for the field of urban folklore. Hundreds of thousands of internal migrants from various areas of Greece, and from outside of the country, have swarmed towards Greece’s major urban centres, thus spurring the gradual development of peculiar and at times incomplete urbanization. In this framework, we examine the significance of holistic research in urban space from a perspective of folkloristics, the significance of the ethnographic method introduced by Dimitrios Loukatos that influenced the field of urban folklore in Greece, and the relations of cooperation between folkloristics and social and cultural anthropology with regards to urban space. In addition to discussing the history of the science of folklore, I focus on research methodology and a framework of examining a context locally. More specifically, regarding research methodology, modern folklorists introduced the ‘ethnographic method’ of social phenomena research, i.e., examination through field ethnographic research at a particular space and time, and in this case, the urban center. This contribution was slightly significant as it differentiates folk research from the previous method based on lemmata, which examined phenomena within time and not contemporarily, in the present. Finally, we analyze the ethnographic method, a methodological approach which today is the most common approach in Greek folklore studies. This research methodology is predicated on the following; field research (participant observation, semi-structured questions, life narrations, focus groups, etc.), archival research, and literary testimonies under certain conditions, mainly at times when we refer to the urban folklore of the past. Here, we also act to support the opinion that an approach that is exclusively based on archival or literary material and that does not take into account field research is unilateral and not complete.


Keywords: Urban folklore, linguistic anthropology, immigration, Greece, folklore studies


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