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Understanding Past & Present Migration in Greece

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“There is a long story of migrant presence in Greece. We need to listen to this story. We, as a society, need this memory to be preserved. We need to reflect on the part migrants have in the shaping of our society. My project aspires to do exactly that.”

Landecker Democracy Fellow Sebene’s project utilizes migration history as a tool for social cohesion and anti-discrimination. This project aims to contribute to the documentation of the history of migration towards Greece by shifting the narrative, providing more visibility to the migrant communities in Greece, and empowering communities as active agents in this process. The project is taking place in consultation with and support from the Greek Forum of Migrants.

Sebene’s Motivation

Since 2015, Greece has been a center of migration due to the large numbers of refugees entering Europe from the Middle East and Africa through the country. Yet this only tells part of the story. More than 500,000 migrants have been residing in Greece, some of them since the 1970s. Since the 1990s, there has been a large Albanian community who have settled in Greece. Nevertheless, to this day there has been limited documentation of their journeys, experiences, and the level of their contribution to the Greek economy and culture.

Meanwhile, the public conversation on migration has been framed around the recent refugee arrivals only. The way media covers migration is polarizing and politicized. The pandemic has further exacerbated this. With the contribution of existing networks and migrant communities, Sebene’s project aspires to address this through the creation of a migration oral history hub online. The result of this work will be a web platform with audiovisual material.

Project Objectives

Sebene’s project aims to promote social cohesion and tackle xenophobia by fostering a public discussion about the importance of migration in our society and by giving more positive visibility to migrant communities.

Sebene’s project aims to promote social cohesion and tackle xenophobia by fostering a public discussion.

The public will gain knowledge, information about the communities they live with, increased empathy, and a deeper connection with a different part of the country’s history. It will also provide them with a deeper perspective of the fact that migration to Greece is not something new but quite the opposite. It is a phenomenon that has shaped the country as it is today. Migrant communities and elder people in particular will share their untold stories with the rest of the society, thus becoming more visible in the public eye.

The project’s message argues that migration is a vital and central part of Greek history, neither a threat nor a curse. In this context, this project potentially serves as an opportunity to start a wider public discussion regarding the need for a broader and more systematic documentation of migration history in Greece.

Updated February 2022.