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The Nomads of Mykonos

The Nomads of Mykonos: Performing Liminalities in a 'Queer' Space

Pola Bousiou
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 322
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  • Book Info
    The Nomads of Mykonos
    Book Description:

    This is the ethnography of theMykoniots d'election, a 'gang' of romantic adventurers who have been visiting the island of Mykonos for the last thirty-five years and have formed a community of dispersed friends. Their constant return to and insistence on working, acting and creating in a tourist space, offers them an extreme identity, which in turn is aesthetically marked by the transient cultural properties of Mykonos. Drawing semiotically from its ancient counterpart Delos, whose myth of emergence entails a spatial restlessness, contemporary Mykonos also acquires an idiosyncratic fluidity. In mythology Delos, the island of Apollo, was condemned by the gods to be an island in constant movement. Mykonos, as a signifier of a new form of ontological nomadism, semiotically shares such assumptions. TheNomads of Mykonoskeep returning to a series of alternative affective groups largely in order to heal a split: between their desire for autonomy, rebellion and aloneness and their need to affectively belong to a collectivity. Mykonos for theMykoniots d'electionis their permanent 'stopover'; their regular comings and goings discursively project onto Mykonos' space an allegorical (discordant) notion of 'home'.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-068-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Note on transliteration
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    This book is an anthropological study of consumption and self-construction on the Greek island of Mykonos, the place I have been enchanted with since my late teens. It is a study of theMykoniots d’élection, who, as their invented group-designation reveals, are a group of people who have been visiting the island of Mykonos for the last thirty-five years or so and have formed an alternative community. Their constant return to the island and their insistence on living, acting, working and creating in a tourist space offers them an alternative identity, which in turn is aesthetically marked by the transient...

    (pp. 1-34)

    ‘By their performances shall ye know them.’ Is it a play? Or rather is it a performance one plays by oneself? I wrote this ethnography without having any idea what the theoretical notion of performativity was. ‘My informants’ led me to this existential topos. Prior to this encounter I saw Greece, my auto-ethnographic topos, as comprised of imitative social actors who were prescribed to perform a stereotypical role. There was a repertoire of roles, of course, but it was a limited one. Why was I seeing my auto-ethnographic ‘other’ like this? Was it because they were passively acting out this...

  7. 2 Narratives of belonging: THE MYTH OF AN ‘INDIGENOUS’ OTHERNESS
    (pp. 35-64)

    The primary purpose of this chapter is to familiarise the reader with the aesthetic plurality of the Mykonian context and to discuss one means through which the myth of Mykonos is constructed. This type of a hybrid cultural context shapes and is shaped by conscious subjects with multiple subjectivities who sustain alternating group affiliations. Classificatory attempts are arbitrary since they portray a complex social reality where group classifications experiment on different aesthetic/social levels. Hence any category is recreated through a freeze-frame of these alternating discourses of group affiliations. In this sense, ethnography could not work as a ‘total’ representation of...

  8. 3 Narratives of the self: AN ECCENTRIC MYTH OF OTHERNESS
    (pp. 65-138)

    Autobiographical confessions? Narratives of the self? Or self portraits? I was puzzled. Which term should I use? What would be the appropriate title to epitomise my endeavour to reconstruct and portray my informants’ personal stories?

    After some consideration of theoretical terms, I decided to employ the phrase ‘narratives of the self’,¹ since what I had were not linear narrations, straightforwardly constructed life-histories. My informants, in any case, would not provide me with life-histories as such. As will be demonstrated, such monolithic self-representations would be in contradiction with their conscious identity experimentation, their multiple/aesthetic subjectivities.

    The next task was to determine...

  9. 4 Narratives of place: A SPATIAL MYTH OF OTHERNESS
    (pp. 139-174)

    The following chapters will concentrate on ethnographic manifestations of the group’s idiosyncratic liminality. I describe some examples ofMykoniotgatherings that will help to ethnographically draw the performative boundaries around theMykoniots d’élection.The material will show three aspects of theMykoniots’attitude towards liminality: firstly, theMykoniots’version of celebrating mainstream rituals (through a description of a wedding in chapter 5); secondly, their appropriation of and participation in local feasts; and, thirdly, the creation of a liminal ‘routine’ of their own, that I euphemistically call ‘a ritual of our own’ in imitation of theMykoniots’childlike and conspicuous attitude...

  10. 5 Narratives of difference: AN AESTHETIC MYTH OF OTHERNESS
    (pp. 175-214)

    The opening quote of this chapter comes from an ethnography that seemingly deals with an altogether ‘alien’ group of informants: a number of very elderly Eastern European Jewish immigrants who formed the membership of a day centre 175 in a Californian coastal resort. One might wonder, in the first place, what is the structural position of oblivion, or even worse, death, in an ethnographic account of a wedding ritual, a rite de passage for a fairly young couple? And secondly, the Mykoniots, so far, seem to be the reckless element of their generation, the uncompromising Greek version of the hipster....

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 215-230)

    The concept of neo-tribalism (Maffesoli 1996a) is highly relevant to the theoretical formation of a group like theMykoniots d’élection,whose basic collective identity is synthesised through common notions of style. Maffesoli employs the concept oftribusin order to account for alternative group formations which are a widespread phenomenon of post-modernity. Maffesoli is the theorist who fragments mass culture. His new groups are formed from the ‘remainders of a mass consumption society, groups distinguished by their members’ shared lifestyles and tastes’ (Shields 1996: x).

    In the foreword to the English translation ofLes Temps de Tribus,Shields warns the...

  12. Epilogue. A beach farewell
    (pp. 231-248)

    The body without organs is not a dead body but a living body all the more alive and teeming once it had blown apart the organism and its organization’. (Deleuze and Guattari 2004b: 34)

    [T]he emotion produced in performance isreal,and dangerous. (Hughes-Freeland 1998: 14)

    Throughout this book, I have avoided using anything but personal stories, representing theMykoniots d’election,as self-contained actors from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds, who rhetorically insisted that they had no real affiliation with their significant ethnographic ‘others’. Those others, they argued, were just ‘acquaintances’, the result of aleatory encounters over the years. They were not...

  13. Appendix I. The problem of agency in the Greek ethnographic subject
    (pp. 249-262)
  14. Appendix II. The emergence of the sensual post-tourist: consuming ‘cultures’, multisubjective selves and (trans) local spaces
    (pp. 263-270)
    (pp. 271-276)
    (pp. 277-292)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 293-308)