Many people accompanied me throughout ‘my journey into Griko’, others only along some of its paths. Too many of them left this world while I was ‘traveling’. To my grandmother Lavretàna, the first ‘Griko voice’ I heard; to my uncle ’Melo, whose charming singing voice in Griko keeps echoing in my mind; and to my friend Uccio, whose life stories in and about Griko I will always carry with me. To ’Nzino, Tommasino, Carmelo, and Tetta. This work is affectionately dedicated to all of them; they are deeply missed. And to my father Niceta, who didn’t live long enough to hold this book in his hands, but long enough to share his Griko with me; it became our special affective code and strengthened our bond during his last years.
My first and deepest expression of gratitude goes to Charles Stewart, for his yearslong dedication and guidance, and for providing me with invaluable inspiration. I owe an immeasurable debt to him and I will continue to look up to his example as an academic and as a person. I am grateful to Michael Herzfeld for sharing his wealth of knowledge, for his support, and for encouraging me to trust my own arguments. Our conversations have helped me immensely. My gratitude goes also to Alexandra Geourgakopoulou and Ben Rampton, who welcomed me at Kings College prior to fieldwork, and who introduced me to and trained me in the fascinating world of sociolinguistics/linguistic anthropology theory and methodology. For her inspiring insights and encouragement I thank Eleana Yalouri of Panteio University; she allowed me to make the most of my stay in Greece, and has been to me not only an academic referent, but a friend. My gratitude goes as well to Spiros Moschonas, who invited me to follow his enlightening lectures at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and for sharing his archive of Greek newspaper articles dealing with Griko. Many thanks also to my friend and a gifted anthropologist, Nikola Kosmatopoulos, who first introduced me to the wonderful world of anthropology. Σε ευχαριστώ!
Portions of this research have been published in Italian by local editors. My gratitude goes also to all those who, through conversations and feedback, offered insights and advice on aspects or arguments of this book: Eleni Papagaroufali, Ruth Mandel, Stavroula Pipyrou, Maria Olimpia Squillaci, Janine Su, Christina Petropoulou, Jennika Baines, Daniel Knight, Naomi Leite, Eric Hirsch, Peggy Froer, Liana Chua, Maria Kastrinou, Naor Ben-Yehoyada, Mariela Nuñez-Janes, Beth Uzwiak, Jessica Santos. My warmest thanks to Giovanna Parmigiani for accompanying me emotionally and conceptually, and for being the first one to read this book from beginning to end.
It took me ‘more time’ than I had hoped before I managed to place the final period on this book. Different reasons—at times totally unpredictable—delayed the process. Yet, I never considered this book a step in my career path. The responsibility of ‘presenting’ this story stopped me along the way more than once. Or else, as Uncle Giò says, “Some things simply take time and need time.” I thank personally all those who patiently waited, but also my mother Assunta—'Ntina—who more pragmatically keeps reminding me that this is ‘just a book’.
Yet, if you are holding this book in your hands now it is only because I then encountered—in some instances re-encountered—people who believed in its value, and who helped me find my way back to it. I will therefore always be indebted to the Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University, for welcoming me warmly and stirring in me renewed enthusiasm in this project. My warmest thanks to Gregory Nagy for offering me the opportunity to awake and explore my own—long silenced—humanistic/artistic interests; this has added value to my research. I thank Leonard Muellner, who promptly embraced this project; Zoie Lafis for lending an attentive and intrigued ear to the topic of Griko and its current revival; Lanah Koelle, who was a constant reference throughout my stay at CHS in Washington, and who keeps providing guidance and support; and Jill Robbins and Noel Spencer for their patience through the editing process of this book.
My deepest gratitude goes to my elderly friends from Grecìa Salentina, (Antimino, ’Ndata, Splendora, Uccio, Uccia, Grazio, Gaetano, Cosimino, Giglio, etc.), who not only taught me Griko, but let me wander freely in ‘their story-worlds,’ even when that brought to the surface not-so-nice memories. I cannot express the debt of eternal gratitude that I owe them. I thank also all the Griko activists and experts for sharing their ideas, hopes, and uncertainties about the future of Griko; I owe my gratitude particularly to Luigi and Sandra, with whom I embarked on endless conversations, and who never got tired of my continual checking and double checking that I was faithfully reporting their views. Many thanks to my friends in Salento—Monica, Antonio, Massimo, Annu, Miro, Flora, Helen, Daniele—who each in their own ways encouraged me to keep going. I also thank my new friends Kosma and Stefano for helping to manage my anxiety crisis right at the end of this journey.
I am very grateful to my Greek ‘informants’ for making me feel at home. Many thanks to my Greek extended family: Ms. and Mr. Kosmatopoulos (Vaso and Yannis) and Aspasia, my first Modern Greek teacher; and my Athenian friends, Thodoris, Marina, Panayiotis, and Vaso. I also have a sentimental debt to my Ikarian friends, with whom I spent some of the most intense months of my life. This did not help my writing, but it prolonged my fieldwork and showed me yet another face of Greece.
I would also like to thank for their support the friends and colleagues I met in the Department of Anthropology at University College London at different stages of this endeavor, for sharing their ideas and suggestions and for keeping me company. I cannot possibly name all of them, but I must name Janine Su—who also rendered my English polished and clear—Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic, Dimitra Kofti, Beata Świtek, Dimitris Dalakoglou, Viorel Anastasoaie, Yiannis Kyriakakis, Piero Di Giminiani, Nico Tassi, Matan Shapiro, and Alessandra Basso-Ortiz, with whom I started this journey, and who would be proud to know that I finally made it to my destination. I am also grateful to my former students at Brunel, who made me realize the strong link between research and teaching, and who made me feel I was contributing positively to their lives by helping them discover anthropology.
I wrote this book in different places, not only ‘at home’ in Salento; I also worked on it in Calabria, in Sicily, in Greece. Many thanks are therefore due to my friend Andrea, my friend and colleague Maria Olimpia, and Ms. and Mr. Cocuzza, who let me ‘hide’ at their places when I was overwhelmed by my family responsibilities, and by the guilt of not being able to reconcile them with my writing. My warmest thanks to my sister Luciana, who patiently ‘replaced’ me in my role as a daughter during my absences, and also to my sisters Laura and Tonia, who are my biggest fans.
I am also thankful to an anonymous reader of the very first draft of this book, whose feedback caused me a sort of ‘crisis’—both academic and personal—but which eventually helped me make a better final product.
This research has been generously financed by several sponsors. Most of my fieldwork in Grecìa Salentina was funded by a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, while the Central Research Fund of the University of London assisted with expenses for the initial phases of my research in Italy. I would also like to acknowledge the financial support from the Greek State Scholarship Foundation (IKY) and from the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, which facilitated my fieldwork in Greece, as well as for grants from the UCL Graduate School.
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If not otherwise stated, all translations from Italian are mine; as for the names I used to refer to my informants: some people preferred to be anonymized, while others asked expressly to be named. In both cases I respected their preferences.