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APYPaper - Arnold Gregory Arnold APY 106 Fieldwork Paper...

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Arnold Gregory Arnold APY 106 Fieldwork Paper Summer 2011 My Time amongst the Greeks: An Account of the Greek Festival When one imagines the monolithic entity that is dubbed “Western civilization”, it’s hard to forget the people of Greece. In this sun-drenched Mediterranean peninsula, the roots of modern society were set down, and thus the Greeks earned their place in history. It was this history that persuaded the European powers of the 1830s to intervene in favor of Greek independence, and made Greece the country that it, for better or worse, is today. However, there have been several significant Diasporas of Greek peoples, and as a result, there are Greeks in places as far away from their traditional homelands as here, in Buffalo, NY. On Saturday, June 4, I took part in the working of the Greek Festival of Buffalo. What I saw was an odd conflict of interests, both the “Greek stereotype” and the “true Greek”, both being on display almost simultaneously for a host of people who couldn’t tell the difference. My time at the Greek Festival was spent working, both selling tickets and working in the “Plaka” (the kitchen area) from 11 AM until midnight on Saturday, June 4. This was not first exposure to the Greek Festival, or Greek culture in general. I had the chance to work at the Greek Festival last year, although for not as long or in the “Plaka”. Similarly, I had the fortune to have a roommate from Athens, Greece during the previous year. That being said, my understandings of Greek culture and the Greek people were limited mostly to facts, with few distinctions for various phases (historically speaking) of said culture. However, there were several aspects of the Greek Festival which, either through prior knowledge or through conversations with fellow workers, that struck me as particularly interesting.
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Arnold First and foremost was the inherent religious nature of the festival itself. The location of the festival itself is at the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, clearly showing the association between the festival’s organizers and the Greek Orthodox faith. Indeed, the vast
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