AfricaNSFThe Research University (TRU)

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Death and Migration: Negotiating the Secular and Islam in Greece: Yale University

Marcia Inhorn

[email protected]

Doctoral student Christina Palivos (Yale University), with the guidance of Dr. M. Kamari Clarke, will undertake research on secularism, the state, and migration. As migrants with particular religious orientations move into secular and semi-secular democracies, they pose unanticipated challenges for both the theory and practice of modern state governance, as evidenced by the head scarf debate in France. Palivos will focus her research on the problems of burial of migrant Muslims who die while moving through Greece on their way to various destinations in Europe. In the past decade, the Evros River and the Aegean Sea along the eastern borders of Greece have become the main points of entry for approximately 90 per cent of migrants en route to Europe from the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Central Asia; many of them are Muslim. As the number of people crossing these bodies of water has grown, so has the number who die along the way, making Greece an excellent site to explore these issues. <br/><br/>Palivos will undertake eighteen months of ethnographic research amongst Muslim immigrants in three Greek locations: Athens, Lesvos, and Alexandroupolis. She will gather data on the different treatments that Muslim dead receive in Greece, including repatriation of remains to the country of origin, relocation of remains from to Thrace (the only Greek site with Muslim cemetaries), and local burial of unidentified remains in unmarked graves. Research methods will include participant observation, semi-structured interviews, burial case studies, repatriation case studies, and archival research. <br/><br/>This research is important because it will contribute to social scientific understanding of how the current economic crisis and attendant migration are together changing what it means to be a modern state subject. Her research also will fill gaps in what is known about the circulation of dead bodies within and across national borders and contribute to the ethnography of contemporary Greece. Supporting this research also supports the education of a graduate student.

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