Focus On: National Garden

tour_img-189936-48The Royal Garden was commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838 and completed by 1840. It was designed by the German agronomist Frederick Schmidt who imported over 500 species of plants and a variety of animals including peacocks, ducks, and turtles. (see Wikipedia for more).

Many important social and political events have occurred in the garden.  Anthropologists continue to look at this site with interest.

Click here for a virtual tour of the gardens.

Here are walking directions from Mets (where we’ll be staying) to one of the turtle ponds in the National Gardens.  First student to snap a picture of the turtles this summer will get a prize!


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Focus On: Athenian Graffiti Hubs

Silver 925 Graffiti Shop


Graffiti began to appear in Athens in 1987.  Strolling along the streets of the city in the late ’80s you would have seen the tags, in plain black, of soccer hooligans (usually put up as they left for matches).  These hooligan tags contrasted what had become a popular mode of political advertising: putting up large political party tags with rollers, often in white paint, on the national highway. 

The scene changed in the early ’90s as a handful of artists ~ Paladin, Woozy, Art, Mavros, Pavlos ~ took up graffiti writing.  The scene exploded in ’93 when Greek-Dutch writer Bez came from Holland and began to organize graffiti writing events.  There is currently an active graffiti writing scene in the city.  The Graffiti Shop is the go-to site to find out what’s going on and to meet writers.

Source: Kiriakos Iosifidis (2009), Graff: Greek Graffiti Scene. Greece: Metehmio
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Focus On: Benaki Museum

ImageThe Benaki Museum, established and endowed in 1930 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis, is housed in the Benakis family mansion in downtown Athens, Greece. The museum houses Greek works of art from the prehistorical to the modern times, an extensive collection of Asian art, hosts periodic exhibitions and maintains a state-of-the-art restoration and conservation workshop.(source: Wikipedia)


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Focus On: Progressive Art Cafés

I am not strange. I am just not normal ~ Salvador Dali

3,987 coffees per month / 126 vodkas in the rain /  25 years in action


 a brain hub. tribes and nations in creative disruption. trend setters and mind clusters cooperate in full time. BLOW UP!

Kolokotroni 57 (Monastiraki Station)
Athens, Greece
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Focus On: The New Entrepreneurs

As Greeks continue to struggle under the troika austerity measures, a handful of individuals are managing ~ against all odds ~ to find and/or create new opportunities.  Check out the following short doc:

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Excursion: The National Museum of Contemporary Art


“When anthropologists are interested in art, they are interested in what art can make of life. When they ask ‘What is art?’, they want to know what life is – or, more accurately, how life is lived, experienced and expressed. And when they enquire about what it is that artists do, they want to find out how their diverse creative pursuits are shaped by the specific cultural and social relations and practices which, at any given moment, make both art and life what they are. Art!”  (Excerpt from “Art and Life” by Professor Pavel Büchler, available here)

The photograph above is part of Manolis Baboussis’ “Greek Aesthetics” collection

Visit the National Museum of Contemporary Art online

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Focus on: Intellectual Commons

Sanzio_01_Plato_AristotleAthens / Public Sphere / Philosophy ~ evoke images of ancient Greece, philosophers … paintings of pensive bearded men in flowing robes…

Today, new open spaces of idea exchange are popping up across the city around universities, squats, cafes, and especially online.  Welcome to the age of the intellectual commons!

Check out Nomadic University (posts in both English and Greek):cropped-dsc022472

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Focus On: Design


Design is a key site of cultural production in contemporary society.  Anthropologists engaged in this area of research consider a wide range of issues from the social life of concepts to the communication of “knowledge-pieces” and design heritage.

In the last few years ~ that is, in the wake of the financial crisis ~ Athenians have become very interested in design.  Students interested in this area of research may undertake projects that explore the aesthetics of resistance, the re-imagination/reinterpretation of nationalist discourses, etc. etc.

On the left is a poster designed by George Triantafyllakos.  Click on his name to visit his website.  Following is a blurb about this (rather anthropological) piece:

Mind (2007)

Play: Playing a role. Living an experience outside but at the same time inside my mind. My mental status is augmented and, with it, my physical as well. I float beyond and above time and space in a deterministic world governed by interaction rules, subset of the reality. A world trying to eliminate reality’s chaos through “non-useful”, “non-productive” and “non-real” processes.

Other amazing Greek designers and design resources:

Sotos Anagnos: hypokondriak design

Hellenic Graphic Design: HEGRADE

 +Design Magazine

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Focus On: Food

ImageExperiencing Food Like an Anthropologist!

From the market, through the kitchen and at the table, people negotiate their social and cultural lives, mediate relationships, plan, dream, and remember.


A good take on the modern Greek philosophy on food and eating:

While in Athens you can shop at the local supermarket, small fruit and vegetable stores, bakeries and ~ most exciting ~ at the weekly farmer’s market (just up the street from where you’ll be staying)! Here are some photos of the market:

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Here are a few pictures of restaurants around Athens (there are more in the photos stacked to the right of this post):

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You will also discover the amazing (free) fruit that grows along most streets in Athens (oranges, plums, figs, grapes, pomegranates…):

DSCN1109 IMG_0717

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Exploring Athens


Athens is a complex city: as one student put it last year, a city comprised of urban villages.  Exploring, getting lost, asking for directions, stumbling onto new places, sitting in unfamiliar squares, getting off two metro stops away from the one you intended ~ all are excellent ways to orient oneself to new ground.  To help you prepare, here are a few useful resources: City of Athens website, guide to contemporary architecture in Athens, eat your way across the city (family kitchen to family kitchen), follow the street art with this site and this one

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