Lucy Lopata-Varkas (UCL) - 2020-21 Students
(Re)making Jewish Heritage in Greece: An Ethnographic Study
My project explores the ways in which Jewish heritage is understood and constructed in Athens, Greece. The country is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the diaspora, yet it maintains an introverted stance with regards to displaying its presence to non-Jewish persons and on the domestic socio-political stage. Apart from activities relating to Holocaust memorialisation, the Greek Jewish community veils itself with privacy and retreats from hosting public events. This stands in contrast to the manifold Jewish revival projects sweeping other European countries such as Poland, Germany or Spain, where festivals and workshops, organised cooperatively by Jewish and non-Jewish groups, are open to all.
With Greece placing high among countries harbouring antisemitic sentiments in Europe, I am interested in how external forces influence the ways in which Jewish heritage, memory and history are negotiated within the public versus private domain of the community. Approaching heritage as any tangible or intangible resource relating to the past, I am also examining how emic understandings of Jewishness and Judaism affect which aspects of heritage are chosen, consciously or not, to be cultivated by local Jews and how they are further shaped by the wider socio-cultural dynamics of Greece.