Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies
‘Chinese’ Clothing and the Changing Qualities of the Greek Social Fabric
Ted and Elaine Athanassiades Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Hellenic Studies
Respondent: Elizabeth Davis, Anthropology
Shortly after Greece’s 2001 accession to the Eurozone, a sudden and sharp influx of Chinese merchants, capital, and commodities entered Greece and swiftly transformed the economic and physical landscape of its urban centers and rural peripheries. Taking this new contact situation between Chinese and Greek merchants and commodities as its subject, this talk draws from my larger work on Sino-Hellenic trade to examine the impact of Chinese commodities and migrants in Greece. In particular, I will be considering the widespread sentiment that these new “Chinese” products are “low quality” to open up a larger discussion on current transformations of value (political, economic, and moral) in Greece. What I refer to as “quality discourse” is a global practice of valuation that orients national desires and forms of social distinction in advanced capitalism. In Greece, quality discourse works to oppose national forms of manufacture, ways of life and social reproduction to what is viewed as a “mushrooming” of Chinese merchants and commodities. With reference to anthropological theories on exchange, I will discuss how mundane moments of petty trade can be taken as an enactment of the erosion of social relations and the general devaluation of the Greek economy and tradition.
Tracey Rosen received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, where she has taught undergraduate and graduate students. With funding from Fulbright-Hays and the Council for European Studies, she has conducted over three years of doctoral field research in Greece, Europe and China. Her dissertation examines the semiotic and practical dimensions of Chinese trade in Greece over the last fifteen years. Her research interests include global capitalism, migration, racial and ethnic formation, semiotics, and critical theory.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Scheide Caldwell House, Room 103
Supported by The Christos G. and Rhoda Papaioannou Modern Greek Studies Fund