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D I A A JOURNAL OF TRANSNATIONAL STUDIES Diaspora 7:1 1998 Citizens of the Trans-Nation: Political Mobilization, Multiculturalism, and Nationalism in the Greek Diaspora Anastasia N. Panagakos University of California, Santa Barbara1 Introduction In the early 1990s, the Greek diaspora experienced an exceptional period of political mobilization, sparked by the international community's recognition of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia as an independent state. While there is little contestation that Macedonia exists as a geographic area, who can claim Macedonian history and ethnic identity is much more problematic. The struggle to claim Macedonian identity has been fought between groups located in Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and the Greek and Macedonian diasporas, each group proclaiming themselves the true Macedonians. In the diaspora, this struggle has manifested itself through newspaper editorials, letter-writing campaigns, lobbying efforts, festivals, and political rallies. This essay examines one such political rally held by Greek Canadians in Calgary, Alberta, in order to highlight how the Macedonian issue became a catalyst for political mobilization and a forum for the expression of ethnic identity.2 I argue that political mobilization , which occurred within the legal structure of the Canadian state, was a product of technologically mediated ties that linked Calgary's Greek community with other political and cultural organizations of the global Greek diaspora and the Greek state. The pleas of the Greek state for support on the Macedonian question, and the subsequent response from segments of the diaspora,3 indicate the strong connection between diaspora and homeland. They also indicate that, although lobbying efforts aimed at the Canadian federal government failed at the policy level, such political mobilization has had implications for ethnic identity and its production in the Greek Canadian community. Moreover, this essay addresses political mobilization in the Greek Canadian community as an outcome of the interaction between the Canadian multicultural myth, Canada's legally recognized ethnic groups, and the Canadian state. Greek Canadians, in support of the Greek state, use the myth of multiculturalism to their 54 Diaspora 7:1 1998 advantage in claiming their right to lobby for Greece as Canadian citizens. They believe that the Canadian government should recognize this right if Canada, as a state, is to remain true to its multicultural claims and sensitive to the political and cultural needs ofits ethnic minorities.4 Contrary to the notion that diasporas have divided and incompatible loyalties, Greek Canadians view their political mobilization as existing within the definition of Canadian multiculturalism and do not see their actions as disloyal to Canada. Political activism among Greek Canadians, particularly in smaller communities such as Calgary, signals a new form of political expression in a Greek diaspora that is changing because of increased use ofthe Internet, satellite television, and magazines, such as Odyssey, that appeal to English-speaking diasporan populations. The use of Canadian citizenship as a site for the advocacy of some of Greece's foreign policy goals is an indication of the changing nature ofstates and their inclusive citizenship. The rights associated with diasporic citizenship are challenged, and continue to be questioned and revised, as states deal with dual citizens or pressures from supranational organizations, such as the European Union, in formulating citizenship policy and practice.5 Although the power of the state to control ideas and the flow of capital is weak, identity is still linked with the state (Sassen; Basch, Glick Schiller, and Szanton Blanc). Nor have some ofthe intriguing alternatives, such as the global flow of culture or the notion of the ethnoscape, come to fruition (Appadurai 33).6 In the case of Greek Canadians, religion , politics, cultural expression, and ethnicity are intricately linked through the state (both the Greek and the Canadian). In order to establish context, this essay begins with a historical account of the Macedonian question and its significance in the Greek diaspora. What then follows is a description of the rally that took place on 2 May 1992 outside the Harry Hays Federal Building in downtown Calgary. I discuss how this activity promoted the interests of the Greek state and, for the diaspora, signified an important moment ofidentification with the homeland. Finally, I will consider the competing influences of Greece, the homeland...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-1568
Print ISSN
1044-2057
Pages
pp. 53-73
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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