chapter  5
13 Pages

Transnationalisation, Materialisation and Commoditisation of Ethnicity

Introduction On Thursday, 9 November 2000, the Krasnodar Greek national-cultural organisation (society) held its usual weekly meeting. What was unusual was that the offi ce was full of people; it was too small to accommodate all those who had turned out that evening and the overfl ow had to stand in a dark corridor. It was obvious that they were waiting for something. When I entered the offi ce the chairperson of the society was speaking on the telephone; he was quite nervous, even annoyed. He almost shouted into the telephone: ‘Yes, we are waiting for him! He promised to be here by 6.30 . . .’ Listening to conversations in the room, I realised that the offi ce was overcrowded because the people were all waiting for their passports to be returned from the Greek Consulate in Moscow, complete with visas. Since 1999, when the Greek General Consulate in Novorossiisk had stopped issuing visas, people from southern Russia and the North Caucasus had had to apply for Greek visas in Moscow. The crowd at the meeting was very upset over this inconvenience and people were complaining to the chairperson. He replied that from 2001 onwards they would once again be able to obtain their visas from the Novorossiisk Consulate. Moreover, it would even be possible to apply for Greek citizenship there (everyone called it ‘dual citizenship’, meaning that they were planning to retain their Russian passports as well). The people were very pleased to hear this and, although their passports did not arrive that evening, many went home in a better mood.