‘Greek Social Movements between Past and Present’ Conference, Co-convened by Rori Lamprini

Conference background and programme

From the fall of the seven-year military dictatorship to the end of the Cold War (1974-1990), Greece has experienced almost two decades of unprecedented politicization and robust mobilization, among several other grievances. Calls for national sovereignty and democratization and growing opposition towards capitalism, NATO and the EEC mobilized Greek citizens to develop a culture of social and political protest which reflected in increasing political participation. Political parties, trade unions, and social movements eagerly accommodated this trend which was also an outcome of political suppression during the Junta, when protest movements swept both Cold War camps in Europe as well as the USA. The legacy of the civil war and the radicalization caused by the Junta and the Cyprus crisis of 1974 cemented the left’s ownership of social movements, in both its communist and centre-left manifestations, as well as the antagonism between them.

However, in the early 1990s, the dispute with FYROM interrupted the leftist hegemony, as an almost cross-cutting partisan consensus that brought nationalists of the centre left together with the right and the far- right into the streets. The leftist protest agenda was further challenged in 2000, when the people of the church, mostly conservatives, populated the streets to protest against the optional registration of religion in national identity cards. In a broader sense, the agenda of mobilization in the 1990s and the 2000s was marked by the alternation between materialist and postmaterialist values: school and student movements, anti-war protest, opposition to pension reform, anti-globalization and environmentalist demands.

The centrality of parties in social mobilization defined both the development and the research of social movements for the period under discussion. The peaceful protest which followed the deadly fires of 2007 seemed to bring a new kind of massive and spontaneous civil society reaction to the fore. Another transformation, including widespread civil violence, became evident in the riots that followed the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos by a policeman in December 2008. A few years later, the economic crisis, with its unprecedented magnitude and durée, brought massive, often violent protest to the forefront of politics. Anti- elite, anti-parties, anti-austerity, anti-immigrant, anti and pro-EU movements, protest for local interests, environmental causes, composed an explosive new mosaic of protest, with ethnopopulism being the common denominator.

The agenda of protest and indignation during the financial crisis has multiplied academic and popular attention for social movements in Greece, without however having provided an integrated interpretation for the development and significance of the phenomenon, its continuities and discontinuities throughout the post- 1974 era.

The core purpose of the conference is to bring together scholars from different subject areas - Political scientists, Historians, Social anthropologists, Sociologists, Psychologists, to engage in an interdisciplinary, theoretical, empirical and methodological dialogue on the study of the phenomenon of Greek social movements and to offer a comparison in the temporal realm. While incorporating trends with other countries, we mainly focus on Greece across decades; investigating the distinctiveness of the place and the historical and cultural peculiarities. 

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