Belonging to Greece and the Soviet Union: Private Life of Greeks in Tashkent 1949-1974

This paper illustrates the narrative of Greek political refugees of Tashkent and seeks to recognize their hybrid Greek and Soviet identities in their private lives. By examining the memory of private spaces of Greek political refugees in Soviet Tashkent between 1949-1974, the beliefs, symbols and practices reveal the hybridity of Greek-Soviet identity. Private spaces include Greek homes in Tashkent and their wards. In the context of this research, the house space and the physical spaces surrounding it were examined to understand in what ways Greek-Soviet identity was represented and performed. The wards served as private yet communal places because of their construction. The politics of the community influenced social cliques and relationships within the community. Research and its findings are based on oral histories and Greek-language newspapers published during the period as well as on memoirs of Greeks who lived in Tashkent. The collective narrative of Greeks of Tashkent emerges as a very positive and idealized one. Greeks legitimized their settlement in Tashkent by showing how they defended Soviet ideology and how they contributed to and developed Soviet society. The homemaking narrative allowed Greeks to belong to the imagined Greek Soviet Community, the imagined Soviet community and the imagined Greek community.

The media presented ward life in terms of the KOT’s celebrations and events that unified the entire collective, but the family-centred festivities. Greek cultural practices were adapted to fit secular Soviet society. Greek families represented both Greek and Soviet values, traditions and practices in the home space. This will aid our understanding of the collective memory and homemaking narrative of the Greek experience in Soviet Tashkent. More specifically, it will support Greek diaspora scholarship and specifically the collective narrative of private lives Greeks had living abroad.