Refugees, Othering, and Acculturation in Athens: How Can the “Other” Possibly Integrate?

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi

Abstract: In the past ten years, Greece has been hit by two “crises”. The first, an economic crisis in 2009, which consisted of a series of bailouts from the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, leading to a trend of anti-Greek sentiment within the EU. The second, the Syrian refugee “crisis”, beginning in the fall of 2015. At the start, Greece was simply a transit country as first-point of entry to the EU. Four years on, the tensions of both “crises” are still palpable in the Greek capital. The case study research is framed under these preconditions in order to evaluate the role of othering of both Greeks and refugees, and how this affects the acculturation strategy in the urban city center of Athens. Acculturation and integration theories (Berry, 1997; 2001), philosophical and race-based interpretations of othering (Hegel, 1977; Stasak, 2008), vertical social segregation (Maloutas & Spyrellis, 2015), and situated solidarities (Routledge & Derickson, 2015) theoretically situated the empirical findings in an interdisciplinary context. To analyze this phenomenon, the primary empirical research included interviews pursued with both refugees and Greeks, an online survey focusing on Greek perceptions of refugees in Athens, and observations in neighborhoods in the city center. Supplementary evidence was provided through document, including policy papers, research reports, new articles, and EU level ad hoc queries, all of which provided support to the overall aim of the research. In this paper, I argue that the othering of Greeks on the EU level, has impacted the othering of refugees and their pursuance of integration into Greek society.

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