Anthropologist Examines Effects of Crisis on Greek Sense of Self in U. of Illinois Talk

URBANA-CHAMPAIGN – The Modern Greek Studies Program of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosted Dr. Neni Panourgia of Columbia University and New School of Social Research, who gave a public lecture titled “There is no End to Mourning Here: Giving an Account of the Precarious Self in Greece of the Crises,” in the Lincoln Hall, Room on December 3.

The following summary was submitted prior to Dr. Panourgia’s presentation: “How does one give an account of one’s own precarity? What sorts of formulations are available, cultural and political contingents, which can speak the unspeakable and name the unnamable? And what does this precarity look like on the ground? What is the phenomenology of such an existence? The unrest of global youth over the past two years has been accused of having no direction, leadership, no objectives, no plan, no structure. But is that really so? Or is it that the new global youth has actually found a way of both giving an account of itself and of demanding accountability by means that are resolutely new and untried? If destruction and de-struction are the only identifiable positions today what can they tell us about the position of the youth as the epicenter of precarity? I am looking at different ways in which young people in Greece are attempting to own and disown precarity: in music, in alternate forms of exchange, in reanimations of gifting, in claiming commons, in reorganizing public spaces. I consider discourses of mourning and loss as they are being erected in Athens, Greece, during this time, among the young who participate in these new formulations of being, as they are attempting to carve out a sense and an articulation of slef out of the cinders of global capital, as the wake and the refuse of phatic accountabilities performed from the vacated spaces of real responsibilities.”

Dr. Panourgia was born and raised in Athens received B.A. (with Honors) from the American College of Greece, with a major in History and Minor in English Literature. She received her MA in Anthropology and Museum Studies and her PhD in Anthropology and Turkish Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. In 1988-1990 she studied at the department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She is currently Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research and faculty at the Department of Classics and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. Prior to Columbia University she taught at Princeton University, Rutgers University, and New York University. She has been a Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, at Princeton University, at Ohio State University, and at Panteion University (Athens, Greece), and University Professor at Université de Paris VIII, St Denis. She has published articles on the political dimensions of architecture, on the theory of anthropology, epistemology, on the ethnographic method, on death and mourning, on issues of health, the question of biopolitics and the body, the political dimensions of culture, and on the current crisis. Her articles and reviews have appeared in American Ethnologist, American Anthropologist, American Historical Review, Cultural Anthropology (http://www.culanth.org/?q=node/432), Journal of Modern Greek Studies (Volume 28, Number 2, October 2010), angelaki,  and many other journals.

Her first book Fragments of Death, Fables of Identity. An Athenian Anthropography (University of Wisconsin Press 1995) received the 1996 Grand Jury Prize of the International Society of Ethnohistory and the 1997 Chicago Folklore Prize. She is co-editor with George Marcus of Ethnographica Moralia (2008, Fordham University Press). Her latest book, Dangerous Citizens. The Greek Left and the Terror of the State (2009, Fordham University Press, andwww.dangerouscitizens.columbia.edu) received Honorable Mention in the 2010 Prose Prize of American Publishers, the 2011 Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology, and the 2011 Edmund Keeley Prize of the Modern Greek Studies Association.

She has been on the Advisory Board of the New York Academy of Sciences (2002-2011) and a Co-Chair of the Anthropology Section (2009-2011); on the Executive Board of the Modern Greek Studies Association (2002-2005, 2007-present); and is currently the Co-editor (Social Sciences) of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies (2013-2016).

The Co-sponsors to the event included: Modern Greek Studies Program; Department of Linguistics; European Union Center (EUC); Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (CSAMES); Department of Political Sciences; Center for Global Studies; Department of Sociology; Department of Anthropology; Center for Advanced Studies (CAS)