Hess [Abstract]

What can co-ethnic immigrants tell us about ethnic visions of the national self? A comparative analysis of Germany and Greece     [Full text]

Christin Heß [1]

Abstract: Nations with a predominantly ethno-cultural self-perception and citizenship based on jus sanguinis are under pressure today to adopt more civic-territorial ideas of nationhood, including elements of jus soli. Two nations experiencing these trends in Europe but have rarely been juxtaposed are Greece and Germany. Characteristic of both nations is a long reserved privileged access to citizenship and settlement assistance for co-ethnic immigrants from Eastern Europe and recently the Former Soviet Union. This article argues that changes to the way these privileged immigrant groups and their settlement are addressed should also reflect changes to the national idiom. The paper contrasts Greece to Germany and finds that, similarly to developments in its northern counterpart, Greek repatriates from the Former Soviet Union have been an important consequence of the ethno-cultural idiom and reinforced it at times. In the new millennium these immigrants’ importance is diminishing in reality, if not on paper. The article concludes that in spite of this and the citizenship reform of 2010, the tendency to see the country as a culturally homogeneous nation is still fairly strong in Greece. The analysis draws on interviews with ‘repatriates’ in both countries and with national policy-makers in Greece, as well as on newspaper clippings, opinion polls and statistical data, complemented by leading scholarship in the field to date.

Keywords: Post-Soviet repatriates, repatriation policy, ethno-cultural nations, national identity, citizenship, Former Soviet Union, ethnic Greeks, ethnic Germans, diaspora

[1] Christin Hess is Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies at the  University of Bath (United Kingdom). Her research was funded by the Department of European Studies of the University of Bath, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) and the École française d’Athènes (EfA).