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An Ethnography of Despair and Resilience in Greece's Second City

Kathryn A. Kozaitis

Publication Date - 24 January 2020

ISBN: 9780190090142

256 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

The first and only full-length ethnography of an urban middle-class in Greece, and the global-local articulations of the financial crisis and societal transformations


This engagingly written and deeply ethnographic work examines the economic and political factors that led to the Greek debt crisis, including financial pressures from international lenders, unregulated spending by the Greek government, predatory bank loans, and rising unemployment.

Indebted looks closely at the cultural dimensions of the crisis: how middle class urbanites experienced the shock of a global fiscal collapse, managed societal instability, and worked to sustain their families in the face of structural pressures, local instabilities, and moral imperatives. Author Kathryn A. Kozaitis based her analysis on ethnographic research in Thessaloniki, the second largest city and co-capital of Greece, during the summer of 2009, 2011-2012, and ethnographic updates in 2013-2019. She places particular emphasis on the lived experience of Thessalonikians in what emerged as a culture of crisis--collective, patterned behaviors, thoughts, and emotions characteristic of a people in sociocultural transformation--in an uncertain present marked by past realities and future imaginaries. The book synthesizes hundreds of crisis narratives, depicting Thessalonikians' responses to their country's political disaster and downward mobility through the themes of loss and displacement; blame and accountability; reconfigurations of kinship roles and responsibilities; emotional and intellectual awakenings; and emergent indicators of survival, continuity, and renewal through alternative praxis.

Indebted is a volume in the series ISSUES OF GLOBALIZATION: CASE STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY ANTHROPOLOGY, which examines the experiences of individual communities in our contemporary world. Each volume offers a brief and engaging exploration of a particular issue arising from globalization and its cultural, political, and economic effects on certain peoples or groups.

About the Author(s)

Kathryn A. Kozaitis is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Georgia State University.


"In a masterful blend of ethnographic detail and challenging theory, Kozaitis charts the lasting impact of financial austerity on middle-class residents of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. Reaching beyond the stereotypes of the so-called 'Greek Crisis,' Kozaitis takes readers on a colorful and at times emotional tour of the local consequences of a global disaster. She reminds us that although Greece might now be out of the international media spotlight, the consequences of a decade of structural readjustment continue unabated in every aspect of everyday life. This book is a valuable contribution to ethnographies of austerity and crisis, studies of solidarity and resistance, and represents a key contribution to twenty-first century European ethnography."--Daniel M. Knight, University of St. Andrews

"Kozaitis explores the effects of enforced economic austerity on ordinary lives in a Greek city. Indebted is an eloquent testament to the residents' extraordinary resilience, self-awareness, and capacity for deep solidarity in the face of a cruel and unexpectedly rapid erosion in the quality of their lives."--Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

"Indebted is ethnography at its finest. It takes us deep into the lives of people in Thessaloniki (Salonica) as they grapple with the shock of a broken economy and the fall from a comfortable, middle-class life, to previously unimaginable austerity."--H. Russell Bernard, University of Florida

Table of Contents

    List of Illustrations

    Prologue: Global Drama, Greek Tragedy
    Chapter 1. Crisis of Debt and Dignity
    Chapter 2. The City and Its People
    Chapter 3. Assault without Warning
    Chapter 4. Days of Reckoning
    Chapter 5. Solidarity to the Rescue
    Chapter 6. The Leisurely in Spite of Themselves
    Chapter 7. Theory of Crisis as Liminality
    Epilogue: Resilience and Praxis

    Transliteration and Glossary

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