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Refugees, tradition and the state: malleable materials and plastic practices in ceramic production on Lesvos, Greece.

Author(s): Peter Day

Year: 2017

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Summary

Lesvos (Mytilini) in the Eastern Aegean has been prominent on our TV screens during the human migration towards Europe. The last major population movement in the area, around 100 years ago, comprised the Greek-speaking Christian Orthodox, including several potters, forced out of Asia Minor. Some of these craftspeople came from Canakkale, in present day Turkey, working in the tradition of sometimes bizarre glazed wares. They settled on an island with a large number of active workshops producing utilitarian pottery, notably water jars, but including cooking vessels.

Several generations later, the present study of individual potters, their products, practices and motivations builds on rich ethnographic study on the island by a variety of scholars. It examines different narratives, involving individual potters in relation to the modern Greek state, placing value on ‘tradition’ and ‘authenticity’. The idea promoted by heritage organisations of 'tradition' as static and something to be preserved contrasts with the economic reality of life as a potter. The tensions highlighted by terminologies of inclusion or exclusion, whether that be potters versus ceramicists, craft versus art, reveal a fluidity of materials, practice and identity in which the 'foreign' becomes incorporated and, in some cases, becomes the paradigm of tradition.


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Refugees, tradition and the state: malleable materials and plastic practices in ceramic production on Lesvos, Greece.. Peter Day. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428868)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15922

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America