Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

Greeks are an ethnic group of long historical duration and significance in the development of Western civilization. This collection is focused on the Greeks in Greece. The Greek language belongs to the Indo-European language family. Greece became over 50 percent urbanized in the late 1960s; about a third of the Greek population lives in Athens. In the rural areas, subsistence agriculture of grain, olives, and vines has generally been replaced by cash cropping. This collection also includes information about the pastoral Sarakatsani of northern and central Greece. Greece is one of the least industrialized European nations.


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Europe --Southeastern Europe



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number.

The Greeks collection consists of 94 English language documents and one translation from the German (Kavvadias or Kavadias, 1965, no. 13). The focus of the collection is mainly on rural Greek society in a number of well-studied communities on the mainland of Greece (particularly in the regions of Boeotia, Piraeus, Kokinia, Zagor, Epiros, and central Macedonia), and the major Aegean or Greek islands of Crete, Rhodes, Lesbos, and the Cyclades (Tinos, Anafi). Also included in the collection unit are the comprehensive studies on the Sarakatsani nomads of the Zagori, Epirus, Thessaly, and central Greece regions by Campbell (1966, 1992, 1970, 1963, nos. 11, 15, 17, and 18), and by Kavvadias (1965, no. 13). The Sarakatsani were formerly a separate OWC (Outline of World Cultures) collection unit in the HRAF collection of ethnography under the designation of EH14. Although much of the cultural data in the collection are concerned with rural Greece, there are several documents, that deal in varying degrees of complexity with the city of Athens (e.g., Allen, 1986, no. 14; Friedl, 1976, no. 32; Kenna, 1983, no. 70; and Safilios-Rothschild, 1976, no. 95). General comprehensive studies dealing with all of Greece are sparse in the collection, and those that do, such as Sanders (1962, no. 1), and Lee (1953, no. 10), are limited in time coverage to the late 1950s and early 1960s. Many of the documents are regionalized reports by one author, dealing with a limited number of ethnographic topics. DuBoulay's works are centered around the village of Amboli on the island of Euboea and are concerned primarily with women's status and gender roles. This topic also figures prominently in the several studies by Dubisch on the Cycladic Islands, particularly in reference to the island of Tinos, and in the works of Caraveli (1986, no. 20), and Cowen (1991, no. 21). The documents by Friedl, centered on the village of Vasilika in the Boeotia region of mainland Greece, present a classic study of a rural community in transition. The primary work to be examined here is Friedl (1963, no. 2). Herzfeld's prodigious output of 21 documents in this collection (see eHRAF nos. 36-56) is larger than the total of some eHRAF cultural collections. His primary fieldwork was done on the islands of Rhodes and Crete and involves a wide range of ethnographic topics, a sampling of which are: dowry (1980, no. 37), honor and shame (1980, no. 42), inheritance (1980, no. 54), naming practices (1982, no. 55), kinship terminology (1983, no. 45), gender relations and ideology (1991, 1986, nos. 53, 56), and local and national identity (1986, no. 48). Hirschon's studies concentrate on an urban refugee community in Piraeus, with an emphasis on the relationship between gender ideology, identity, and housing (Hirschon, 1978, 1983, 1985, 1989, nos. 59, 60, 61, and 58). In another article she examines work, play and childhood cognitive development (Hirschon, 1992, no. 57). Kenna's fieldwork in the period of the 1960s-1980s is based on her analysis of ethnographic data on the island of Anafi in the Cycladic islands. In her earlier works in this collection, Kenna uses the pseudonym Nisos to disguise the actual location of her fieldwork, but drops this ruse later on in her articles. Some of the major topics discussed in her studies are: family economy and relationships (Kenna, 1990, 1976, 1993, nos. 65, 69, and 74), and relations between the islanders and their out-migrating kin (Kenna, 1990, 1977, 1983, 1992, 1993, nos. 65, 66, 76, 73, and 74).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

This culture summary is from the article "Greeks", by Susan Buck Sutton in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 4, 1992, Linda A. Bennett, editor. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall & Co. The Human Relations Area Files wish to acknowledge with thanks the many bibliographical suggestions made by Peter Allen in compiling this collection. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in April 2002.

Overview by

John Beierle

agricultural bank -- category 652

Archeological Service -- category 656

ARMATOLES -- locally raised militia of the Ottoman period -- category 701

BADZANAKIDES -- brothers-in-law -- category 607

CHIFTLIKS -- large estates -- category 423

common market -- categories 439, 648

community board (council) -- category 623

DROPE -- sexual shame of women -- categories 152, 562

EGHOISMOS -- self-regard -- category 156

GASTARBEITER -- foreign worker -- category 167

GEROVSIA -- category 623

Greek Civil War -- category 669

Greek National Society -- category 575

GRUSUZIA -- social deviant -- category 828

Hellenism -- category 1710

IKOYENA -- family -- categories 602, 592

KAFENIO -- coffee house -- category 275

KAFETERIA -- a hybrid combination of bar and ZAHAROPLASTIO -- categories 275, 265

KAMAKI -- literally a harpoon for spearing fish, but used metaphorically for the act of a Greek man pursuing a foreign women -- category 832

KEFIA -- an ideal mood of joy and relaxation -- categories 152, 577

KERASMA -- hospitality -- categories 431, 574

KLEFTS -- brigands, rebel groups -- categories 579, 669, 701

KLEPSA -- sheep theft -- category 685

KOLIVA -- food prepared for a funeral -- categories 764, 765, 769

KOUMBARIA -- ritual kinship -- category 608

MANDINADHA --distich -- categories 5310, 578, 522

Migrants Association -- a welfare and pressure group -- categories 747, 664

NIKOKYRIO -- household -- category 592

NOMOS (NOMARCH) -- district -- category 634

PALLIKARI -- the age group of adult but unmarried men -- categories 561, 571

PANAYIA -- the Virgin Mary -- category 776

PAREES (PAREA) -- cooperative groups of families -- categories 596, 476, 621

PAZARI -- bargain -- category 437

PHILOTIMO -- as concept of the self; honor -- categories 156, 828, 577

PLATEIA -- the village square -- category 361

post war (post revolution) reconstruction -- category 727

president of community board -- category 622

PROXENIO -- arranged marriage -- category 584

PSYCHIKO -- good works done for the salvation of the soul -- category 783

ROUFIANIA -- informing -- category 626

ROUHA -- dowry -- category 583

SASMOS -- arbiter -- category 627

secretary of community board -- category 624

SIDEKNI -- spiritual kin -- category 608

SOGHAMBROS -- in-marrying groom -- categories 591, 593

SOI -- patri-group -- category 613

SPITI -- the household -- category 592

STANI -- categories 474, 612

SYNGENIA -- common stock, generation, lineage -- category 613

THIARMOS -- evil eye -- categories 753, 754, 755

TIME -- honor -- category 577

Youth Movement (E.O.N.) -- category 883

ZAHAROPLASTIO -- sweet shops -- category 265

ZOE -- brotherhood of theologians -- category 794

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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