Transnational Action and the Return of the Forced Out: The Case of the Diaspora of Imvros
Gökceada (Imvros), a North Aegean island, was ceded to Turkey under the Lausanne Treaty (1923). After the provisions of the Treaty for self-governing status of the Greek community a population of about 7.000 Christian Orthodox people remained in the island. However, due to discriminatory measures by the Turkish authorities, especially after the Sixties, about two hundred elderly Greeks remain in the island today. The large number of people from Imvros took refuge in Greece and abroad. Currently, active Imvrian Associations exist in Greece, U.S.A., Australia, S. Africa, West Germany and virtually in other parts of the world. Among the main goals of these associations are to promote their cause in Greek and international fora, to assist the erderly in the island, to organise the annual pilgrimage in Imvros, where more than two thousands people from all over the world meet every summer, and to undertake a set of other actions aiming to forge an Imvrian consciousness. I focus on the largest Imvrian Association based in Athens which transnationally plays a leading role in the coordination of the diaspora. Imvrian people strongly believe that their forced immigration has been downgraded by Greek policies and that they have been treated as a ‘minor question’ in the broad Greco-Turkish conflict. Therefore, their representatives act as N.G.O. promoting their claims as direct negotiators vis-a-vis the European Community and other international fora and organizations. Over the last years, due to new technologies of communication, this form of action has been broadened and intensified. I analyse my ethnographic material drawing from theories on transnationalism, nationalism and globalisation.
Keywords: Imvros, Transnationalism, Diaspora, Nationalism
Dr. Giorghos Tsimouris
Assistant Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Panteion University