“It is Chic to be Greek” in the Greek/American Classroom:
Ethnic Revival, Representation, Gender

by Yiorgos Anagnostou

Honoring Women’s History Month
—March 2021

Greek America in Ethnic Revival

In his “America Discovers Greek Is Beautiful,” a 1975 New York Times editorial, journalist Nicholas Gage addresses the nation’s particular reception of Greeks at the time. “In the last few years,” he writes, “a strange thing has been noticed by Americans of Greek descent, … ‘it is chic to be Greek.’” It is chic to be Greek was a catchy phrase evoked to capture the American mood then toward all things Greek.

The editorial draws on the 1970s cultural phenomenon of ethnic revival, which fed the appreciation for ethnic roots. Public interest about the resilience and value of ethnic identification was at its peak. It was the era of The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics, famously captured in the title of Michael Novak’s popular 1972 book.

In the case of Greek America, Gage’s piece recognizes the role of two blockbuster films from Greece, Never on Sunday (1960) and Zorba the Greek (1964), as having set the stage for the positive reception. It includes the perspective of advertising executive George Lois, for whom the films project the image of the “Greeks as appealing free spirits, unfettered [and] unneurotic,” all attributes, one notes, that contributed to the cultural appeal of ethnicity as an antidote to modern malaise. The duality between the expressive ethnic in tune with personal emotion and the self-controlled, repressed WASP—an enduring trope that years later the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) capitalized in its recycling—played out repeatedly in the 1970s. It privileged ethnicity as authentic expressivity.

Institutions increasingly embraced the new version of the ethnic American. In a 1976 television show, actor Telly Savalas (1922-1994) performed the “ethnic alloy” of an American-born Greek to overwhelming applause. “And even though there is absolutely no question that I am firmly and completely American”—he made a point to preface his Americanness—“it’s absolutely impossible to extract all that wonderful Greekness, if you will, from my personality.”

Deeply entrenched within, the ethnic self now declares itself in public. Savalas’s Brooklyn accent, his wearing of the impeccable tuxedo of American success, and his display of “the Greek passion for life”—smashing glasses, plates, tables and all, and dancing to his “soul bouzouki music”—performed the compatibility between the American and the ethnic self to a national audience. The Zorba-like unfettered spirit found its match in the exuberance of the Greek American male celebrity, the vitality of the hyphenated identity in full national view.

Ethnic revival involved politicized mobilization, affectively loaded ethnic pride, and volatile conflict involving working-class “white ethnics” in connection to demands for cultural recognition but also pressing social and political issues—urban decline, policies regarding welfare for the ethnic working class, neighborhood desegregation. It included various coalitions as well as animosities between working-class and low-middle-class southeastern European and Black Americans.

Savalas’s performance turned the attention away from ethnicity as contestation to ethnicity as cultural celebration, if not a public spectacle. It attested the power of ethnicity on the lives of the integrated middle class, including celebrities. A highly visible participant in the emerging cultural institution of the Greek festival, as well as the institutionalized annual New York City’s Greek Independence Parade—to which he served as Grand Marshall—Savalas lent his iconic status toward the goal of Greek American cultural empowerment.

Ethnicity was indeed the talk of the town. Tapping into this national zeitgeist, Nicholas Gage’s “America Discovers Greek Is Beautiful” opened a space for Greeks into yet another powerful institution, the hospitable pages of Gage’s employer, the New York Times. The “strange thing” of Greeks being “one of the smaller ethnic groups in the American melting pot” yet being “admired and imitated by their fellow Americans,” Gage writes, calls for an explanation. Who are the Greek Americans? How to account for their enormous popularity despite their tiny demographic? This was certainly a compelling narrative angle to capture the national imagination.

Gage’s piece opted for self-representation: Greek Americans defining Greek America. His narrative strategy was to elicit points of view from an ample pool of interviewees. The majority of his interlocutors—I counted fourteen in all—represented professionals with names potentially recognized by the readership—Alex Karras, the all-American defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions; George Lois, “the flamboyant advertising executive”; and Harry Mark Petrakis, an award-winning author. Also featured was an ordinary immigrant—a gift shop owner who made a point to recognize his wife as a business partner.

Weaving the various perspectives into the editorial, one thread in Gage’s narrative constructs a paradigmatic narrative of European American ethnic revival. Greek Americans stand for hard work, perseverance, entrepreneurialism, zest for life, and meaningful traditions, all combined into the making of a Greek American identity. Male immigrants honor family moral obligations—adhering to the tradition of the dowry, for example—and immigrant parents sacrifice for the education of their children. Success has not turned them into selfish individualists. Assimilation has not stripped them from soulful culture. They are church centered and community oriented. They stand as simultaneously self-assertive, modern and traditional, family bound, socially close-knit, and mutually supportive. This portrayal echoes the ethnic revival’s mantra, namely Michael Novak’s (1972) notion of ethnic people as “network people” creating meaningful connections via their “socially textured selves.”

In Gage’s rendition, however, Greek Americans are also heterogeneous and not unencumbered by internal conflict. Tensions exist between pre- and post-1960s Greek immigrants. There are frequent squabbles “among themselves over such issues as the introduction of English into the church liturgy and the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974.” Despite broad patterns of socioeconomic success, not all Greek Americans are middle class, say. Not to mention that gambling has continued to be an enduring passion, reflecting “the great need Greeks have to test their wits against others,” in Harry Mark Petrakis’s words.

“America Discovers Greek Is Beautiful” deserves close attention as a key text representing the ethnic group for outward cultural consumption. Among other questions, it calls for research on the ways in which Greek Americans negotiated their place in connection to the emerging cultural openness and in relation to expectations about Greek ethnicity at home produced by popular culture. Also, how the various Greek/American intersections at the time shaped collective identity. In Savalas’s performativity of the filmic Zorba ethos along with the ethos of ethnic success and mobility—mirror images of the work ethic—for example, one witnesses a historical reconstitution of Greek identity as the synthesis of passionate, unfettered joy for life and self-disciplined socioeconomic existence. In the diaspora, the “Greek” capacity for emotional immersion and propensity for spontaneity (the authenticity of the ethnic self) has expanded to host the full gamut of Protestant self-discipline, frugality, deferral of gratification, and rational planning.

Gage’s writing also invites examination regarding its significance in post-1970s Greek America. How subsequent self-representation aiming to a national audience has selectively drawn from the array of images and ideas in his editorial, reproducing some, reconfiguring others, and excising some. “America Discovers Greek Is Beautiful” offers insights for a yet-to-be-written history of Greek American ethnic revival.

But also, because of its particular portrayal of men and women, the editorial inevitably raises the question about the place of gender in this and other ethnic self-representations.

Representation and Cultural Politics in the Greek/American Classroom

My reflection on this question springs from a class module in the course “Reading and Writing about Issues in Greek American Society and Culture” I taught in Spring 2021. Gage’s editorial served not only as an apt introduction to Greek American ethnic revival, but also a resource to think about the representation of ethnicity in connection to gender and the issues that this intersection raises.

This angle required that I introduce representation to class as a culturally important practice of meaning-making.

A representation makes a claim; it produces knowledge about a subject. Through representation—in language, visual expressions, embodied performance—we get to know (and debate) the social world; define (and debate) questions about the identity of the self and the identities of others. In our topic, it is through representation that we answer (and debate) the questions, what does it mean to be Greek in the United States? Who are the Greek American women? Representation, being fundamental to humanity, is present in all acts of communication: personal stories, interviews, journalism, documentaries, films, ordinary talk, clothes, dance.

One motivation to make the question of representation an object of reflection for the class stems from my experience in teaching students with little to no experience with the humanities and the social sciences. It is not rare for a student to take certain representations, particularly those expressed by authoritative sources or hegemonic ones (those which appear repeatedly across a wide range of sources), at face value. Representation, in other words, has the power to shape the way we understand the social world.

Because of their power, the claims made through representation must be subjected to examination. Checking the truth of a claim against available evidence is obviously necessary. But it is vital to also ask additional questions: who represents whom and how? What knowledge/meaning does a representation produce and whom does it benefit? In turn, whose interests does a particular claim undermine or even harm?

When MTV aired its show “Growing Up Greek,” for example, a sector of Greek America mobilized in opposition, charging MTV for misrepresenting this ethnic group. The claim was that it distorted the truth and harmed the reputation of Greeks in the interest of corporate profit. The title of the show—the representation “Growing Up Greek”—was misleading, the opposition claimed, as it (mis)represented a particular group of Greek Americans in a specific locality as representative of the whole.

Yet, other voices within Greek America defended the show for representing aspects of Greek American culture that are often excluded from self-narrations of ethnic identity. Claims and counterclaims clashed over the issue of representation. The dense emotions invested in this controversy—and the resulting cancellation of the show only after the first episode—underline the high stakes involved in ethnic representation.

Representation then can be a highly contested practice, leading to discord and censorship by those exerting greater power. No wonder the analysis of representation and the issues it raises are now part of academic curricula, often cast as the study of cultural politics.

A representation can also be confronted for its selective inclusion of perspectives on the subject it represents. When analyzing a particular representation we are therefore mindful of who speaks and who is excluded from the speaking. And of the implications of partial representation for those who do the representation as well as for those being represented.

The Cultural Politics of Ethnicity and Gender I

“America Discovers Greek Is Beautiful” is a gendered narrative on two counts, both in its uneven allocation of space for the portrayal of Greek American women and men, and in the fundamentally different mode it represents those men and women.

Readers of the editorial are indeed faced with an overwhelmingly male world. Out of the twenty-four references to Greek American public figures—community leaders, politicians, businessmen, professionals, and artists—only a meager three are to women: Maria Callas, the famous soprano; Teresa Stratas, a Greek Canadian operatic soprano; and Matina Horner, the president of Radcliffe College. The vast differential in the public power between men and women in 1970s American and Greek American society is in full view.

What is stunning, however, is the contrast in the way the editorial brings Greek American men and Greek American women into representation. This applies to the staggering imbalanced male/female ratio of the interviewees as well as the kinds of “ethnic subjects” women and men are portrayed to be.

Only a mere two—out of the fourteen sources quoted in the essay—are women. Xaviera Hollander, “New York’s best known madame,” is one. A Greek American psychiatric social worker interviewee is the other.

The stark duality in the portrayal mode of men and women is hard to miss. Greek men are seen as inherently active: adventurous, daring, leading, inventive, entrepreneurial, and energetic. Passionate and always capable of reinventing themselves. Madame Hollander’s words enhance the cache for Greek males. “She couldn’t help gushing about Greeks,” the author of the editorial notes, citing her autobiography, The Happy Hooker: “On a private basis, Greek young men are the ones I adore most as lovers,” she wrote. “They are sensitive, strong, warm and exciting.” Her professional authority testifies to their exceptional combination of sexual prowess and delicacy, an additional endorsement, if one was indeed needed, of the Greek ethnic male’s unique endowments. If you were a man, it was chic indeed to be Greek.

The sole Greek American female voice—the psychiatric social worker (and “mother of two”)—also draws from her professional authority—only this time to define the women. “It hasn’t yet occurred to Greek‐American women to question their traditional role of mother, wife and homemaker [my emphasis] … The family structure is too strong,” is her assessment. Gage prefaces her statement: “The women’s movement has not had much impact on any of the three groups [early twentieth century immigrant, American-born, and post-1960s immigrant women].”

The few lines allotted to the representation of Greek American women make a sweeping claim about women’s place in society. Simply put, as I will explain, women are largely placed outside American modernity. This portrayal raises at least two issues: (a) women’s labor beyond domestic work over the span of more than half-a-century (say 1920-1975); and (b) the scale of their engagement with the women’s movement—second-wave feminism—rocking the country in the 1960s and 1970s.

Prior to reading this editorial, students knew from earlier class discussions of Greek American women who, by the 1970s, had public credentials—historian Helen Papanikolas (1917-2004), author Theano Papazoglou Margaris (1906-1991), painter and muralist Ethel Megafan (1916-1993), sociologist Alice Scourby (1926-2009), and actress Olympia Dukakis (1931-2021), who cofounded the Whole Theater Company in 1971 in Montclair, New Jersey. Eva Catafygiotu Topping’s (1920-2011) book Sacred Stories from Byzantium was published in 1977. Since the class, I have discovered the work of New York­­–based artist Cathy (Katina) Lekakis Hios (1915-2006).

Although the actual, even approximate, number of Greek American women who ventured outside the boundaries of domesticity is unknown, students were aware of early twentieth century Greek immigrant women working in the textile and the food industry, including sole proprietorship of restaurants by widowed women. They also knew of “the forgotten female voices of the Greek diaspora in the United States,” the fact that a wide range of working- and middle-class, ordinary and notable women—many American born—pursued professions available to them, including journalism, music, and literary writing. It was evident to the students, then, that the claim of women as exclusively homemakers failed to acknowledge women’s complexity, agency, and multifaceted work.

Representation can notoriously privilege certain perspectives and overlook others. The editorial privileges the perspectives of experts but makes no investment in including a wide range of women’s voices, in contrast to the multiple male perspectives. Why this dissonance? Students wanted to know. The inclusion of a broad range of women’s voices would have challenged the monologic truth of the experts and would have contested their power to define women the way they did.

There was more in class discussion beyond interrogating the selectivity of representation. A student’s question took us to the realm of semiotics. When she focused attention to the wording of the statement, “It hasn’t yet occurred to Greek‐American women” as peculiar, she was directing attention to the role of language in matters of representation. What did the “hasn’t yet occurred” refer to? What did it mean? I had not anticipated this angle. I welcomed it, of course, one of the intellectual delights associated with the emergent nature of knowledge in the classroom.

Indeed, the pithy, authoritative phrasing may appear odd for several reasons. One is a certain ambiguity. Because of the limited context surrounding the psychiatric social worker’s statement, there are at least two plausible meanings in the wording: (a) women would have moved away from traditional gender roles had their thinking not been constrained by their all-powerful patriarchal families; in other words, they are totally colonized internally, lacking the reflective consciousness (not occurring to them) to challenge a system that wants them exclusively as mothers, wives, and homemakers; alternatively, (b) they do not wish to move away from the traditional status because they see no reason for doing so. It has not occurred to them to join the feminist movement on their own volition, being content with their traditional role to which they consent, an oft-cited position among women opposing feminism. Greek patriarchy then does not exist as an oppressive institution.

The first meaning erases women in the 1970s and earlier as contemporary and thinking subjects, a double negation. The second meaning sees no issue with Greek male culture from a woman’s perspective.

How do these two readings construe women and their place in society? In the first, women are colonized by the patriarchal family, and are in no position for reflective agency about life prospects beyond traditional gender roles. Incapable of challenging it—disempowered—women remain frozen in the past and located in the elsewhere (unchanged transplants from the traditional village). They are placed wholly as others outside the here and now and within the “there and then.”

This othering denies women a place in American modernity, a position which strikes today’s readers as peculiar, particularly, one notes, in connection to a group that almost universally celebrates its integration and Americanness. In contrast to the energetic, acculturated ethnic male, it construes women as overwhelmingly unacculturated passive transplants. The implications are clear: men make history, women are located outside the historical process.

In the second reading, the “hasn’t yet occurred” conveys the notion of women feeling no internal need or pressure to step outside their traditional roles. By implication they appear content in their assigned traditional status, abstaining willingly from joining the women’s movement. Representing traditional womanhood—both Greek and middle class American—they are also placed outside the new American womanhood.

But class was over. We left the Zoom meeting resolved to continue the conversation in the next session.

The Cultural Politics of Ethnicity and Gender II

A summary of our analysis is in order. The editorial portrays Greek American men as active participants in the American modernity; subjects in cultural and social motion. In contrast, it generalizes Greek American women in sameness (imposed or voluntary), passive recipients of the traditionalist status quo.

The analysis of the phrasing of this representation generates at least two possible meanings: (a) Greek patriarchy powerfully constitutes women’s consciousness; (b) Greek male culture does not oppress women. Both semantic options are at odds with ethnohistoric reality.

Historical evidence helps us negate these two readings and establish that Greek patriarchy as an oppressive cultural system has been pervasive in the United Sates (though not universal.) If some women did not see a reason to contest it, others decisively resisted it.

After the above—necessary and productive—analysis, the class discussion could proceed to exploring the political ethos of Greek American feminism and the implications of its denial.

Representation, as I mentioned earlier, does not merely involve questions of truth and falsity. It (re)produces meaning, which in turn advances certain interests for particular entities, in specific historical moments. Whose interests did the image of Greek American women immersed in tradition serve?

While it is impossible to read the intentions of authors, we can identify the various effects of the meanings their representations produce. To answer the question of the implications of the silencing of feminism in the editorial, it is necessary to place it in the broader possible context of American society at the time, including the significance of women’s movement and the ideological place of Greek American feminism in ethnic revival.

Greek American women did speak up, in their fierce battle against patriarchy. The visceral intensity of their speaking only matched the magnitude of the power they sought to undermine.

We know little about the scale and the specifics of this engagement—the archive is scarce. Several documents, however, demonstrate the constitutive impact of the second wave feminism on their subjectivities and politics. The 1988 Conference Yiorti: A Celebration of Greek Womanhood provides evidence of Greek American women being active in Women’s Rights Groups as early as 1972. Musician and visual artist Diamanda Galás (b. 1955) has elaborated “on her feminist politics and how it relates to her artistic outlook. … her radical feminism [having developed] within the context of the second wave feminist movement in the 1970s.” Constance Callinicos (1943-2019) identifies modes of personal and group resistance inspired by second wave feminism. Psychologist and author Leah Fygetakis speaks about the significance of feminism and her ethnic and lesbian identity in the 1980s. We know that other Greek American women hid their lesbian identities to avoid “dishonoring” their families. There have also been references in passing of women joining the women’s movement in California, albeit in accounts that trivialize the extent and depth of their participation.

On May 1, 2021, actress Olympia Dukakis passed away at age 89. Obituaries did not fail to recognize her life-long opposition to patriarchy. The following passage in the tribute by her friend Carey Perloff recognizes the pioneering place of Dukakis in Greek American and American feminism:

Long before the rest of us knew how to do it, Olympia called out injustice wherever she saw it. She believed that it was her legacy as a Greek to fight for justice, to debate and argue, to search for beauty and to protect the disenfranchised. She taught us about the patriarchy before many of us even knew the term, showing us how rarely women took centerstage and how often and easily we allowed ourselves to be silenced. She was the one who made me believe that it was not only possible but empowering to be both a mother and an artist. And a sexual being, to boot! For so many women over so many decades, Olympia was the spirit guide that helped us find our own voices. She was also hilarious and subversive, a bad girl who loved sneaking cigarettes backstage and joking with the stage crew.

Dukakis “rebelled against the whole Greek patriarchal system,” including her mother’s efforts early on to “hold her in check,” in conformity to the traditional moral code of honor, a notorious mechanism to control women.

The archive leaves no doubt: clearly, it did occur to a host of Greek American women to interface with 1970s American feminism and challenge patriarchy in public and in private. As so-called bad girls, they were conscious of a position that eventually turned into a slogan—“well-behaved women seldom make history”—ironically still awaiting for the ethnic history that will extend to them due prominence.

The pioneering interventions of Greek American feminists in the 1970s and 1980s carried far-reaching implications, for they were carving a new trajectory for Greek America in the United States. In their critique of patriarchy, women were making a case for reinventing Greek American ethnicity. Ethnic revival, to them, did not mean the reproduction of the cultural same but rather an opportunity for critical and creative rethinking of tradition as well as its undermining when containing and disciplining women. Ethnicity for them was valuable but intertwined with a conscious process of negotiation with the past, a cultural becoming.

Some, such as Olympia Dukakis, interfaced feminism with broader political commitments. Ethnic identity was connected not only with expressive culture (food, dance, language education, music, charity) but a certain political ethos: to debate issues, to argue, and to call out injustice wherever one sees it. Dukakis saw this political practice as integral to her Greek identity.

Why the Silencing? Implications, Then

The exclusion of women’s voices in the editorial—conscious or unconscious—cancels the women’s internal heterogeneity and in doing so renders invisible alternative meanings of Greek identity in ethnic revival.

How did this normalization work in its historical context? What were its (intended or intended) social effects? The selective representation of women intertwined with that era’s cultural politics in at least two interrelated levels: (a) the social structure of the ethnic community at a time of vast cultural changes in American society; and (b) the place of Greeks in the emerging cultural opening of the American society.

At the level of Greek America, it contributed to the interest of Greek American patriarchy (and those institutions that embody it) to neutralize the cultural threat presented by the “bad girls” in the community. By implication, the muting of their dissenting voices was safeguarding the boundaries and power structure of the community. The vision for ethnicity as a social field open to debate and argumentation for the purpose of social change regarding the position of women was given some momentary public visibility but was eventually sidelined.

At the level of the home society, the erasure of Greek American feminism contributed to the interests of conservative ethnic revival. It is impossible to disconnect the silencing of the feminist dissent from the fact that its highly politicized language and practices posed a serious threat to the version of ethnic revival that sought to regulate the scope of ethnicity; to reorient it, that is, away from political claims for structural change against racism, patriarchy, and working-class exploitation, and toward ethnic pride and celebration of expressive culture.

The denial of Greek American feminism—a fundamentally political act—and the concomitant celebration, instead, of cultural expressivity conformed to the conservative imperative of ethnic revival: construe ethnicity as a politically nonthreatening entity. This depoliticization signaled a distance from the contested politics of American feminism and overall ethnic and racial politics connected with the progressive thread of ethnic revival. It was precisely the muting of critiquing American society that offered the ticket for white ethnics a secure place in America’s broadened cultural landscape, indeed Creating the New Right Ethnic in 1970s America. The depoliticization of identity was exchanged for the admittance of American ethnics into the civic public sphere. Conservative ethnic revival shied away from demands made on behalf of the poor, rallies for ending racism, critiques of inequality. Keeping at bay this politics, it projected an unthreatening and often tightly choreographed image of community-centered, pleasurable, exoticized sociability, enabling at the same time the claim of access to authentic tradition.

The thunderous applause of Telly Savallas’s cultural performance seals the nation’s approval of ethnicity as cultural expressivity. What would the reaction of the audience have been if it were to involve a claim calling for interracial solidarity and indictment of patriarchy? Would have this spectacle allowed on the air in the first place?

Implications, Now

The conservative domestication of Greek ethnicity entailed a Faustian exchange, maximizing the visibility of Greek ethnicity while narrowing the range of public meanings associated with Greek identity and marginalizing the progressive thread within the community. The capitulation to normative expectations resulted in an impressive cultural revival but also a significant compression whose lasting impact is with us today. Identity narratives have become selective celebrations of ethnic pride, claiming homogeneity as they exclude inconvenient representations and dissenting voices.

The regulation of what counts as “Greek” continued well beyond the ethnic revival, shaping the ethnic future. It proved successful in controlling the feminist politicized ethos, certainly excising the radical perspective from collective identity narratives. This cultural politics of containment sought to stifle internal critique and its call for structural change. Its scale of success reflects the enduring presence of patriarchal culture in the community today.

The silencing of women’s complexity in the past calls for its re/collection and reclamation in the present. This, not only as an obligation to include their voices—which entails a necessary historical restoration—but also to recognize the effects that women’s misrepresentation has had on Greek American women themselves.

Our knowledge of this realm is also limited (a fact that requires inquiry about how patriarchy inflects the kinds of questions we ask about ourselves). A recent testimony by author Elaine Thomopoulos offers a source to reflect on the affective impact of misrecognition. She reminisces:

My thought went to Aunt Bessie’s (1914-1991) funeral, with family and friends paying tribute to this wonderful woman. The priest at the funeral spoke about her but instead of comforting me his flippant words made my heart ache, and my mouth feel like vinegar. He relegated her to the background by casting her in the traditional subservient Greek woman’s role. He loftily related how she assisted her husband and three children in their accomplishments, not mentioning what she herself had accomplished. He did not bring out the qualities that made Aunt Bessie the person she was.

Patriarchy infects damage on women through language. Misrecognition cuts the body like a knife. In its sheer injustice, misrepresentation generates bodily discomfort, and Thomopoulos embodied dismay regarding the one-dimensional patriarchal portrayal of her aunt. She resorts to counterrepresentation as the means to challenges the official rendering. And to restore the truth.

Women’s anger, frustrations, and mechanisms of resistance against their misrepresentations warrants its own story.

If patriarchal representations fix women in the place patriarchy wants to locate them, the task still today is the identification and analysis of this ideological operation. We currently witness the ongoing community recognition of women as professionals, educators, philanthropists, artists, scientists, authors, and civic and cultural activists. This includes small but significant steps toward recognizing nonnormative sexual identities.

But if the analysis of the cultural politics of representation above has taught us anything, critical alertness is necessary to navigate cultural landscapes and identify those absences that a high volume of voices may obscure; to be able to listen and document what is not said, what is not named, what is silenced.

If we wish to cultivate an inclusively vibrant Greek American public sphere, our task is to keep closely examining how patriarchy, in its various intersections with narratives consolidating ethnicity into a monolithic entity, morphs to deflect critique as it celebrates women’s work and politics selectively. To also continue cultivating spaces that feature a broad range of women’s work, ideas, concepts, and experiences contributing to Greek America’s cultural opening and reinvention.

If there is one thing we owe—one thing among many—to previously silenced and marginalized Greek American women is to also keep alive their vision of the Greek American social field as one hospitable to debate and argumentation. And one conducive to fight for the disenfranchised. It has been occurring to sectors of Greek America indeed to decolonize ourselves from structures that elevate us to the status of “chic” in exchange for domesticating ethnicity, while we keep dismantling exclusive cultural mythologies, one text at a time.

Yiorgos Anagnostou

February–May 2021