Turn of the screw: narratives of history and economy in the Greek crisis

Daniel M. Knight*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


The Greek crisis has become the most eminent example of neoliberal economic meltdown over the past five years. In towns across Greece people try to come to terms with drastic changes in their everyday lives and grapple with the complex mixture of politics, economy, history and culture that informs crisis experience. This paper addresses recurring themes in crisis narratives from the town of Trikala, central Greece, within the context of local history and economy. Narratives condense historical experience, fashion forms of cultural proximity and facilitate polytemporality. As people recall the era of cifiliks (great estates), the Great Famine of 1941-43, and the stock market collapse they construct a sphere of collective suffering and solidarity based on adversity whilst simultaneously critiquing economic systems. Historical events significantly inform present crisis experience in Trikala, adding local nuances to national and global problems. Three prominent themes can be identified in daily narratives that help locals comprehend the socioeconomic hardship: famine, suicide and colonisation. These recurrent themes form the bases for collective suffering, encouraging solidarity in the face of socioeconomic turmoil. In narrative, actors move seamlessly from past to present, offering a critique of economic systems by means of historical embodiment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-76
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Mediterranean Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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