What Are We Doing Here?”: Exploring the Uncertain Spaces of Solidarity in Athens, Greece

In the wake of the 2010 ‘sovereign debt crisis’ in Greece and the onset of neoliberal austerity reforms, the city of Athens has seen an expansion of alternative social projects (Rokopoulos 2014). More recently, these social projects have also come to include initiatives organized in solidarity with refugees, migrating families, and individuals who have arrived in Athens in unprecedented numbers as a result of the current mass migration, or the so-called ‘humanitarian refugee crisis’. This article, based on ethnographic research, looks at one such mobilization in a housing refugee squat in Athens. With attention to affective dimension of everyday life, this piece aims to showcase the unexpected ways multiple forces—material, political, relational, legal, emotional—shape the lives of local Athenians and migrating refugees at a time and place they might find themselves in deep precarity and immobility, and in midst of numerous crises. This approach allows for (and invites) a nuanced understanding and contemplative imagining of new configurations of political communities and possibilities for alternative expressions of solidarity. Written as a series of vignettes/short story snapshots, this article presents itself as an exploration into ethnographic expression and writing, and in turn, critically engages with methodological teachings and issues of ethics.

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