The Politics of Memory and the Greek Civil War
Loring M. Danforth and Riki van Boeschoten
Recent work in anthropology and oral history on the “politics of memory” contributes greatly to an understanding of the “memory wars” that continue to be fought over one of the most tragic and controversial episodes of the Greek Civil War: the evacuation of children from northern Greece by the Greek Communist Party in 1948. In this paper I offer an “ethnography of memory” of Lia, a village in Epirus that has been transformed into a “memorial village” as a result of the success of Eleni, Nicholas Gage’s best-selling account of the execution of his mother by the communists after she helped him escape from the village. I analyze local memories of the evacuation of children from the village in 1948, the ambivalent feelings residents of Lia continue to nurture about Nicholas Gage’s book, and the controversy surrounding the village guesthouse built in memory of Gage’s mother. I conclude by considering the interaction of the global and the local by analyzing the comments left by visitors in the guest book of the guesthouse and the efforts villagers make in their everyday lives to mend their social relations and heal the traumas of the past.