Greek Island Cosmos

January 2000
9 black and white, 21 line illustrations
288 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
World Anthropology
James Currey

Greek Island Cosmos

Kinship and Community in Meganisi

Roger Just

Paperback out of stock

This volume reveals the historical dynamism of what appears at first sight to be a forgotten backwater.
Meganisi is one of the smallest and most remote of the Greek Ionian islands. From another point of view, it is the centre of the world, and its sailors travel literally from China to Peru while its migrants maintain familial connections from Johannesburg to Montreal.
The villages of Meganisi are tightly-knit communities and this detailed ethnographic study explores the basis on which the islanders' solidarity and sense of identity are constructed and reconstructed despite population mobility and economic change: the values, sentiments and structures of kinship and family.

Series Editors: Wendy James & N.J. Allen


... an ambitious and successful attempt to reinvigorate the anthropological study of kinship and community. - Shauna LaTosky in ANTHROPOLOGICA
Roger Just has a very perceptive ethnographic eye (and ear) and is extremely skilful at unravelling often seemingly mundane events in a manner that is illuminating, sympathetic and often witty. His descriptions of island life are evocative and manage to be sensitive to attractions without falling into romanticism. - Sharon MacDonald, University of Sheffield
... contains an extremely thorough examination of the nuts and bolts of consanguinity, affinity and godparenthood, but Just was also very much a participating observer, working as a fisherman's mate, and as dish-washer and helper to the gregarious Nikos in his coffee shop. Some of the book's livelier passages are descriptions of incidents which involved him trying to balance his good relations with everyone in a tight-knit, gossipy community. He describes sleepless nights spent planning routes and manoeuvres by which he could accept the gift of olive oil from a person (it being deemed inappropriate to buy it) without anyone else learning about it and being offended that the gift was not from them. Creeping down side streets with oily newspaper-wrapped bottles concealed under his coat, he wonders 'How could anything so simple have become so complicated?' - Sofka Zinovieff in THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
... in sum, a fine piece of work from start to finish. Just's scholarship in plumbing the history of Meganisi, including the alternative etymologies of local toponymy, matches his powers of ethnographic observation and give this book an overall balance. Central topics of discussion such as dowry, gender relations and privacy are all cross-referenced with the treatments given by other anthropologists of Greece, thus making this book a valuable key to the whole of Greek ethnography. - Charles Stewart in THE ANGLO-HELLENIC REVIEW
His defence of the rural community as a viable unit of analysis is very stimulating and constitutes an excellent reading for courses examining anthropological methodology and the anthropology of Europe. ...This scholarly and well-written monograph is a testimony to the value of careful anthropological research and will inevitably expand the anthropological appreciation of ethnographic diversity within Greece. - Dimitrios Theodossopoulos in the JRAI

Also in Series

Related Titles