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Tracing a movement: The shape of refugee solidarity in Athens, 2015-19

Λογότυπο του Παντείου Πανεπιστημίου & του τμήματος Κοινωνικής Ανθρωπολογίας

Tracing a movement: The shape of refugee solidarity in Athens, 2015-2019

Wednesday Seminars Department of Social Anthropology, Panteion University, Athens

Wednesday, December 14 2023 | 15.00-17.00

Sharon Jacobs (University of Pennsylvania)


This presentation will share some directions and provisional analyses in my research on the refugee solidarity movement in Athens between 2015-19. My PhD work traces the shape of a social movement in order to increase understanding of refugeehood and solidarity. The refugee solidarity movement in Athens is best-known through the squatted accommodation spaces and grassroots aid structures that emerged, seemingly spontaneously, in the wake of summer 2015. And yet, my research suggests that this movement is enmeshed in a large and tangled network of actors with overlapping, distinct, and even contradictory political visions. I will share some findings from a database I have produced using published media sources regarding how varied support initiatives flesh out the vicinity of the refugee solidarity movement and how this movement in Athens is imbricated with social worlds and political interests elsewhere, also touching on questions of fundraising and institutionalization. Subsequently, I will introduce an in-progress area of research concerning initiatives that make bags out of rubber boats used by people to cross the Mediterranean. I am interested in what such projects can reveal about change over time in/around the refugee solidarity movement, and specifically how people, materials, and projects become more or less stable. Ultimately I hope my research will shed light on how refugeehood and solidarity have been reshaped during a period of intense social movement activity in Athens.

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Short Bio:

Sharon is a PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania undertaking dissertation research on the European refugee solidarity movement in Athens, Greece. Her ongoing project uses participant observation, interviews, and archival research to investigate the question: What does it mean to produce social and political collectivities in the world made in the wake of the 2015 “summer of migration”? Her previous anthropological research has focused on U.S. linguistic nationalism as recently resettled Iraqi refugees experience and participate in it. In addition to her academic career, Sharon is a writer and editor whose work has been published in National Geographic, the Washington Post, and other outlets and a contributing editor for the Society for Cultural Anthropology’s AnthroPod. She is proficient in Arabic and Spanish and intermediate in French and Greek.

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