How "made in China" is made in Greece: Chinese capitalism at the gateway to Europe /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Rosen, Tracey Alexandra, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (233 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: John D. Kelly Committee members: Jean Comaroff; Susan Gal; Michael Herzfeld.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:As twenty-first century global capital restructuring has fashioned China and Greece into international parables of boom and bust, respectively, this dissertation looks at the formation and interpretation of such parables as they occur and impact people's lives at a local level.
Shortly after Greece's 2001 accession into the Eurozone, a sudden and sharp influx of Chinese merchants, capital, and commodities entered Greece and swiftly transformed the economic and physical landscape of its urban centers and rural peripheries. Along with the buyout of Greece's newly privatized port of Piraeus, Chinese state enterprises continue to invest billions of dollars into Greek infrastructure and real estate, earmarking Greece as China's "gateway to Europe." Within the context of such large-scale geopolitical agendas and bilateral trade negotiations, this dissertation tracks these two groups who share no significant, prior history but have been thrust into local competition with one another.
By following merchants and commodities, this dissertation explores transformations in the semiotic and material formation of collective selves and others. By examining the dialogics of space, trade, knowledge, and value, I argue that the imagination of China constitutes a fetishized representation of global capitalism. Yet, I also argue that such processes of fetishization should not be viewed as mere epistemological reflexes. Rather, such forms of representation constitute important, productive features of the very mechanisms by which various forms of international trade and political identities are channeled, strengthened, contested, and undermined.
While attending to both Greek and Chinese merchants, the focus is heavily weighted towards the experiences of self-identified "Greeks." However, this dissertation is weary of treating Chinese migrants as blank projection screens that are, as Claude Levi-Strauss famously quipped, "bonnes a penser." As individuals motivated by their own sets of histories and desires that powerfully shape Greek-Chinese trade encounters, I argue that it is impossible to better understand the complexity of the current situation without the voices of some the Chinese merchants.
In this dissertation, I seek to make two, interconnected interventions at the level of theory and methodology. First, at the level of theory, the dissertation follows in the footsteps of a long, but indelibly necessary, scholarly tradition to destabilize reified conceptions of "the economy" as isolated from social categories and relations. I take it for granted that economic practice is at all times semiotically mediated to argue that not only are ethnic and racial formations tied to economic activities, but that the practice and interpretation of economic activities can also be formed through representations of ethnicity and race. Secondly, at the level of methodology, the dissertation somewhat ambitiously experiments with moving beyond the national confines of traditional immigration studies (which tend to focus on a singular "ethnos") to examine Chinese-Greek interactions as well as individual aspects of both of their respective merchant communities in Greece. At its core, the dissertation seeks to provide an ethnography of advanced capitalism in a local, Greek setting that correspondingly captures the exploded and tangled trajectories of commodities, people, and forms of knowledge.