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Papacharalampous, Nafsika (2019) The Metamorphosis of Greek Cuisine : Sociability, precarity and foodways of crisis in middle class Athens. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis focuses on the metamorphosis of the Greek cuisine at times of crisis and the ‘exoneration of the Greek rural’ by the Athenian middle class. My research as a ‘native’ anthropologist took place in Athens in the mid-2010s, when the effects of the financial crisis had established significant behavioural and social changes that penetrated food procurement and sharing practices. I investigate the new social and market formations, focusing on upscale delis in Athens and the middle-class Athenians who own and shop at these spaces. I engage with the chefs and cooks who create a New Greek Cuisine in the fine dining restaurants of the city. My ethnography brings together different spaces (the village and the city), as well as different temporalities, and how these are imaginatively reproduced through food practices. In search of the threads that bring the rural past into the urban present, I unveil the interconnections between Athenians and their foods at times of crisis and the emergence of a moral economy that protects social identities. Memories of the rural past, and the powerful role of food as a trigger of memory is central to this process. The thesis argues that previously denigrated rural foods are transformed into luxury items of value and associations with Greek rurality are exonerated, as Athenians are renegotiating their identities at times of crisis. This research contributes ethnographically to unveiling the shifting notions of the rural and the urban, tradition and modernity, and how the preservation and invention of foodways are redefined and negotiated in the creation of Greek cuisine. It illustrates how national and class identities, as well as individual and collective memories, are renegotiated and redefined at times of crisis in Greece. Beyond Greece, by engaging with food and the senses (smell and taste) as tropes of resistance at times of crisis, this thesis contributes ethnographically and theoretically to anthropological debates on precarity, moral economy and the political role of commensality.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Elizabeth Hull
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2020 13:20

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