Scope and goals

The Greek Diaspora Project at SEESOX is exploring the interrelation between Greeks abroad and Greece, and the potential political, economic, societal, and cultural consequences of this interrelation. Thus, the creation of a network that links the Greek diaspora throughout the world is one of the project’s key components. With that aim the project is developing a digital, interactive map that records and depicts the presence of Greek diasporic organisations worldwide and provides a platform for communication and interaction for global Hellenism (the map can be found here).

The Greek Diaspora Interactive Map is one result of the collaboration between the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and SEESOX (Memorandum of Cooperation 2017). The initial data for this digital map, collected under the guidance of the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad, includes a wide range of organisations of the Hellenic Diaspora as well as information regarding their type, location and contact details. In the context of the Greek Diaspora Project, this database is being further developed by SEESOX with the aim of making the digital map an up to date and openly accessible tool that reaches a wide audience.With the same aim, the project team has also refined the database through the inclusion of two main selection criteria determining the profile of each diaspora organisation: (a) ‘Activity’ and (b) ‘Geographical Origin’. The first criterion refers to the nature of organisations’ activities/goals/purposes and the second one indicates the regional origin of the organisations’ members (wherever applicable). Based on these criteria, Greek diasporic organisations throughout the world were categorised further, thus creating an additional taxonomy structure in order to enrich the map for the wider audience and facilitate further research on the Greek diaspora. Here we outline this taxonomy and identify some first observations that may be drawn from it. We start from the ‘Activity’ criterion, which is detailed in the table below:

Table 1: Definitions of the 17 ‘Activity’ Categories

The second criterion, ‘Geographical Origin’, is used to categorise Greek diasporic organisations based on their regional identity. It is a status assigned by the MFA signifying that a diasporic organisation has ties to a locality, whether in Greece or elsewhere, and which according to our own categorisation originates from one of the thirteen first-level administrative regions (περιφέρειες) of Greece or from Cyprus, Pontus, Asia Minor, Constantinople, Egypt, and Lebanon. Organisations that cannot be classified under these categories have been placed in the category “other”, while the category “Blank” indicates the absence of specific regional origin.

First observations

Overall, in our first tentative research, we have analysed 3,170 organisations. Looking at the ‘Activities’ of those organisations, our initial observation is that three tags comprise 69% of the ‘Activity’ criterion: ‘Community’ (38%), ‘Religion’ (20%) and ‘Cultural’ (12%). As seen in table two, the total share of all remaining activities is 5% or less.


Concerning the relationship between a destination country, meaning a country that hosts a Greek diaspora community, and ‘Activity’, we can observe a strong presence of certain activities in particular countries. For example, the largest drivers are USA/Religion (547, i.e. 15% of the total ‘Activity’ tags assigned in our database), USA/Community (347, i.e. 9%), and Canada/Community (292, i.e. 8%). It is important to highlight that organizations engaging with activities falling into our ‘Community’ category are evenly distributed across countries (i.e. USA 9%, Canada 8%, Germany 5% and Australia 3%), whereas those engaged with religious activities are more heavily concentrated within a single Country, the USA, which hosts 75% of all diasporic religious organisations.

Table 2: Distribution by ‘Activity’


 Turning to the ‘Geographical Origin’ categorisation, 745 of the 3,170 organisations analysed have been marked by the MFA as being associated with a particular ‘Geographical Origin’ (‘Εθνικοτοπικές οργανώσεις’). Of those organizations, 40% are based in the USA, 27% in Canada, 12% in Germany, 11% in Australia, while the remaining 9% are distributed among all other countries. The vast majority (82%) of those organizations can be classified as ‘Community’ organizations followed by ‘Cultural’ and ‘Welfare’ organizations (5% each).  Finally, as can be seen in the table below, the ‘Geographical Origin’ with the largest concentration of organisations is the Peloponnese, with 17%, followed by Western Macedonia, Pontus, Central Macedonia, and the South Aegean (8% each). The smallest ‘Geographical Origins’ are notably from diaspora organisation, in North America mostly, which themselves originate from historic Greek communities outside Greece such as Egypt, Asia Minor and Lebanon.

Table 3: Distribution of ‘Geographical Origin’

Next steps and avenues for future research

As outlined in the above analysis, the initial data categorisation that we have completed has highlighted certain key trends. Nevertheless, the preliminary results presented here should be approached with some caution as they may change as we continue working to enrich the database. In particular, during the next phase of the analysis we intend, on a systematic basis, to locate and add to the database any diasporic organisations that were not included in the original database received from the MFA, e.g. from such sources as the Ministry of Education, the Greek Orthodox Church and diaspora federation organisations.  The addition of these organisations may alter the proportion of the different categories in various destination countries. For example, while it is possible to hypothesise that the share of religious diasporic organisations may differ in the United States and in Germany due to the different timing of emigration waves to those countries, we consider it unlikely that the difference is actually as big as indicated by our database in its current form. Furthermore, we intend to contact some organisations from the MFA list that do not have their own website, for the purpose of clarifying the full range of their activities, something that may lead to a decrease in the proportion of the ‘Community’ category in our analysis. Finally, we consider that categorising the importance of each organisation (for example in terms of size or budget) in order to weight each data point may offer a different reading of the data.

With these caveats in mind, the data that we are in the process of collecting and the analysis that we are conducting can help to answer a wealth of interesting comparative research questions about Greek diasporic communities from different ‘Geographical Origins’, and in different destination countries.

Regarding the breakdown of the diasporic organisations by ‘Activity’, our data could be used, in conjunction with additional information, to answer questions such as: How did the centrality of religion for Greek diasporic communities vary across different migratory waves, and did this have any consequences for the cohesion of those communities and the strength of their links with Greece? Did the Greek debt crisis precipitate the rate of creation of new diasporic business and professional organisations? Does the income and educational level of the diasporic communities affect the strength and role of diasporic social welfare organisations? Do the level of multiculturalism and the integration policies of destination countries affect the number and nature of Greek diasporic organisations, and do they affect indicators such as second-generation Greek language retention?

The information in our database regarding the affiliation of a substantial share of diasporic organisations with Greek communities of particular ‘Geographical Origins’ also opens a number of interesting research pathways. For one, it would be interesting to use our information on diasporic organisations in conjunction with historical data on the number of emigrants from particular locations in particular destination countries, in order to answer questions such as: Does the number of diasporic organisations affiliated with a particular ‘Geographical Origin’ vary proportionally with the size of the migratory flow from that ‘Geographical Origin’ in particular destination countries, or do some diasporic communities show a greater tendency to form associations than others? Is the associational density that characterises particular diasporic communities related to social capital either in the home location or in the destination country? Furthermore, the information in our database could be combined with data on return migration to Greece to explore important issues, such as the extent to which diasporic communities that experienced high rates of return migration at some point, retained ties with their former members who went back to Greece, thereby giving rise to tightly-knit global networks that were sustained even after waves of return migration took place. Do such networks have any impact on the development prospects of the home community in Greece?

While we continue our work constructing a comprehensive database on Greek diasporic organisations around the world, we hope that the data that we are generating will already help researchers address some of these and many other questions about the Greek diaspora.