Cultural Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Death and Diaspora: Greek American Acculturation in Salt Lake City, Utah and Baltimore, Maryland

Ann Bazzarone

Robinson Hall B, B313
April 10, 2007, 08:00 PM to 07:00 PM

Abstract:

This dissertation concerns processes of acculturation. It specifically addresses the ways in which Greek immigrants dealt with death and life in America from 1900-1945. Death is here considered to be a part of the life cycle, a practical reality of every day life, material culture in the form of grave markers and cemeteries, ritual practice, and a site of change requiring adaptation. As such, death provides a window into meaningful cultural process. Greek immigrants confronted such aspects of death and life by participating in intertwined processes of cultural continuity, cultural change, and cultural transformation. The dissertation specifically examines the life and death experiences of Greek immigrants to Salt Lake City, Utah, and Baltimore Maryland, where, despite contrasting environments, they incorporated similar processes of acculturation by drawing in the same way upon evolving socio/cultural elements of family, church, and community. That is, in some ways they actively sought to retain distinguishing characteristics of their Greek ethnic backgrounds. In other ways they abandoned aspects of their old way of life, such as the practice of exhumation, and adopted new socio/cultural forms found in America. In still other ways they actively engaged in processes of cultural syncretism, blending cultural practices found in the new world with those transplanted from the old and creating something new.

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