Self-government, memory and strife : negotiating the past in selected villages of mountainous Evritania
The thesis explores the effects of a particular past on a number of mountain villages in Evritania, Central Greece. Most fieldwork data are drawn from one of these villages, Agios Vissarios. In the thesis, the particular past refers both to a local history coincident with a national one, and to the ways in which this history is reconstructed in contemporary historical discourse. Two features are identified as dominating that past: a changing dynamic between the rural community and the 'outside' on the one hand, and the experience of civil strife on the other. The framework within which these features are examined is provided by 'self-government'. This entails detailing aspects of Ottoman rule in Evritania; the grass-root experiments with forms of local administration and arbitration in the 1930s & 1940s; and the effects of civil war which followed World War Two in Greece. Within this context the thesis considers how historical forces structure 'popular mentalities', like memory, and argues that aspects of village life today are predicated on the memory of its particular past. At the same time, the thesis illustrates one way in which anthropology and history can be fruitfully combined in the investigation of certain social phenomena. The Introduction elaborates on these key issues and outlines some methodological problems, the resolution of which are integral to the organization of data in the thesis and the overall argument. The ensuing two chapters detail the Present Ethnography of the fieldwork area, identifying specific social relations to highlight the interplay between the village and outside forces, and the legacy of civil war. The Past is then covered in two parts. In the first, self-government is located within a socio-historical context. The ways in which memory acts in historical discourse are explored against this background. In the following part, the war years (1940-50) are considered in terms of the wartime institutions of 'popular rule' and their ensuing codifications. The wider economic and legal significance of the institutions for Evritania are also discussed. The final chapters of the thesis integrate aspects of Past and Present. The civil war is reappraised and the relationship to emigration is investigated. In conclusion, a hypothesis is advanced to illustrate how - through memory - the experience of a particular past acts to create a conceptual dichotomy which lies at the base of a complex but enduring village identity.