Natalie Zervou speaks of certain approach associated with Greek nationality identity. One such approach is ‘Hellenism’. The word ‘Hellenism’ comes from the name Hellen. Hellen,according to Greek mythology, is the person from which all Greeks originate. Zervou defines Hellenism as, “the glorified and idealized aspects of ancient Greek history, including claims to cultural lineage and national purity” (175). Greek natives assume their national identity based on their historical lineage. They assume that to be Greek you must be a descendant of Hellen.
Zervou expresses that Greek past has vital significance in constructing their national identity. Since it is often hailed as the “cradle of Western Civilization”,(174) its past burdens its national identity. In return, this fuels Hellenism among Greek natives. Greek nationals became accustomed to foreigners thus ignorant of their discrimination (178). They subconsciously ignore the histories of the immigrants. Henceforth, erasing their voice from public debate. Thus immigrants have no way of sharing their struggles. Therefor when constructing a national identity, Greece tends to forget about its immigrants. It has become easier to identify with their past than face the present.
Zervou used a choreographed performance to display the struggles faced by illegal immigrants. She refers to the section of the dance sequence titled ‘fear of fascism’ (176). This seem a justified titled as many immigrants feared fascist. During the performance, Zervou referred to a scene that shows ancient ruins and dancers held back by railings. While this hints at Hellenism and how it holds back the immigrants, it also shows the restriction of their voices. They are no longer seen as human but as intruders trying to cross a border. Yet, they are not intruders, as many immigrants have no homes to back to and cannot move forward. Hence their hindrance also has to deal with the government. This performance did a good job in communicating these obstacles.
Works CitedGreek Mythology "Hellen." Accessed 9 Jan 2018. https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Hellen/hellen.html. Zervou, Natalie. "Bodies of Silence and Resilience: Writing Marginality." Congress on Research in Dance Conference Proceedings, 9 Jan 2018. Accessed https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/congress-on-research-in-dance/article/bodies-of-silence-and-resilience-writing-marginality/321B66A9F1027010D75F0A07A6B5F404.
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As for your post, the keyword Hellenism is Zervou’s way of undermining nationalism, which is the force that excludes newcomers for it Hellenism dominates, there is no way to assimilate into Greek culture. So Hellenism is used as an obstacle and becomes a metaphoric prison, which is represented in the dance the refugees presented in Kipseli – the very same market we danced in last Saturday. What they did was associate a cultural structure with a political force — Fascism — and show the effects of the force on their bodies. This way dance becomes a critical intervention to show how vulnerable people become when an idea of culture is exclusionary — and also, as Zervou explains, also a fiction that the idea of “Greekness” undermines, for Greekness allows for the fact that the population is not homogenous in the least, but made up of people who had migrated and have many cultural allegiances because their families and ancestors lived in other lands, intermarried, and either returned or remained attached to Greece as well. Even our tour guide was born in Germany and only returned to Greece nine years ago. Hellenism is a fiction designed to support the far right’s ascent and control. The dancers who showed how that affected their bodies, showed how that fiction had real political effects of control and confinement. Nice reading of the text!