The crisis in Greece in 2010 had tremendous economic repercussions on the country and its citizens. Beyond the direct economic consequences on people’s lives and the deterioration of the living standards, a feeling of insecurity, dysthymia and alienation has covered the country. This lack of hope has made people feel trapped in their homeland.
For many, the crisis has served as the springboard of migration that has often become a point of a new beginning. Most of them left the Greek urban centers to a European metropolis, which, in the imagination of Greece, offered opportunities, quality of life and the freedom they believed was missing from their homeland. They left with the memory of Greece that they chose to carry with them, hoping to build the life they aspired, the life that their own country made them dream of.
Some of them returned with something almost like guilt – because they left their homeland at the difficult period of hardship. They realised that their preconceptions of the European metropolises were idealised. They returned believing that with the experiences they had gained, they would re-build their lives as they aspired and they could help their homeland to revive.
For others, the crisis prompted a realisation of the vanity of the Westernised lifestyles, and a preference to retreat to a village or an island – away from any urban bourgeois way of life. This social impasse forced them towards isolation.
In every case, displacement is followed by memory. Memory is not firmly defined, but varies according to where someone has migrated. The notion of Greekness that exists in memory is perceived in a different way by Greeks who have left, those who have returned and those who have retreated on an island, as it is based on a projection of the absence of things onto a theoretical Greek terrain that almost reaches a new mythology.
Every new place becomes an opportunity for people to redefine themselves based on the memory of Greekness that they carry with them and boundaries of each place they reside. Every new land seems like a new island, where its physical borders are the boundaries that each individual puts on himself. Every movement is a beginning and a return at the same time.
The crisis brought awareness of pre-existing problems and revealed a general need for redefinition, individually and collectively. Existential questions, some so deeply rooted in the culture of this place, have come back to the forefront, to bring us back on a journey of rediscovery. A new Odyssey has begun.