This collection of opinion pieces originates from the Greek Diaspora Project’s blog which is dedicated to the interactions engendered between the Greek Diaspora and Greece due to the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic. These contributions were collected between May and September of 2020. They thus cover interactions that commenced with the initial reactions of Greek diaspora to the pandemic and the initial responses of the Greek government to the pandemic.
Underlying this collection of contributions is the understanding that the pandemic, being par excellence a global event, will both draw diaspora communities closer to the Greek homeland as well as affect their own communal evolution and, thus, directly or indirectly, the shape of their relationship with Greece. This understanding has also determined the main three themes of this collection.
First, the pandemic is seen as a major homeland crisis which, like all such past crises, mobilises diaspora actors with the purpose of aiding or connecting with the homeland. In the case of the pandemic this aid in its most consequential form originates – uniquely in the annals of Greek Diaspora & homeland relations - from Greece’s significant diaspora scientific community. Such diaspora scientific involvement includes the communication and imparting of expertise and the advocacy of remedies relevant to the management of the pandemic and the treatments of its effects.
Second, the pandemic is a crisis for all of the countries that host Greek diaspora communities, affecting the lives of people of Greek descent, ranging from third-generation diaspora Greeks to more recent cohorts who migrated abroad due to Greece’s recent, nearly decade-long economic crisis. As such, the pandemic affects profoundly the lives of diaspora Greeks in the domains of the sacred and the profane. In the domain of the sacred, the desirable degree of adjustment to the pandemic in the case of religious, Greek Orthodox observance becomes an issue of cross-border discourse and contestation, drawing into it the practices and proclamations of Greek Orthodox authorities in Greece and abroad. In the domain of the profane, the pandemic generates claims to the Greek state, by the stresses it imposes on the welfare of the less privileged Greek citizens living abroad and these claims in turn become contested in diaspora, and diaspora and homeland discourse.
Thirdly, the pandemic due to its massive, global impact, generates responses relevant to diaspora and homeland relations both in the EU and the US. Thus, the pandemic justifies a special focus on a) how the Greek state has interacted with the EU’s legal order and policy response towards citizens of EU member-countries wishing to return home amidst widespread travel restrictions b) the impact of the pandemic on the relationship of the Greek-American community, the Greek diaspora’s most numerous, wealthy and powerful, with Greece.