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The Intersection of Gender, Class and Nationality and the Agency of Kytherian Greek Women
Unformatted Document Text:  In this paper I consider how the women on the Greek island of Kythera at the end of the 20 th century exercised their agency in a context of the intersection of gender, class and nationality. The paper is based on a larger study of the intersection of gender and ethnicity among women of Kytherian Greek heritage living in Australia, the United States and on the island. For the larger study I conducted interviews with 95 women of Kytherian Greek heritage living in the three places, and I engaged in participant observation. For this paper, I focus on the 16 interviews I conducted with women living on Kythera in 1993 as well as field notes from short visits I took to the island between 1988 and 1993. I examine the interviews and my notes, and I relate the major themes identified by the women with respect to the constraints women experience and the opportunities they find to exercise their agency. The paper consists of four parts. Part 1 is the Introduction. Part 2 provides a historical context for the intersection of gender, class and nationality in Greece, generally, and on Kythera, in particular. It focuses on women’s migration from Greece and Kythera in the early part of the twentieth century, and the practice of dowry/arranged marriage that shaped that migration and left little opportunity for women to exercise their agency. Part 2, also, presents an overview of contemporary Kythera with respect to gender, class and nationality, and as a context for the discussion of women’s agency there. Part 3 is a data-based discussion of Kytherian women’s agency in a context of the intersection of gender, class and nationality at the end of the twentieth century. It focuses on Kytherian women’s ethnic/national identity and their exercise of sexuality and education. Part 4, the conclusion, summarizes the relationship between gender, class, and nation intersectionality and women’s identity, sexuality and education. Part 2: In the early part of the twentieth century, women’s only respected place in Greek society was in the patriarchal family as a wife and mother. Marriage was critical to the status of 1

Authors: Demos, Vasilikie.
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background image
In this paper I consider how the women on the Greek island of Kythera at the end of the
20
th
century exercised their agency in a context of the intersection of gender, class and
nationality. The paper is based on a larger study of the intersection of gender and ethnicity
among women of Kytherian Greek heritage living in Australia, the United States and on the
island. For the larger study I conducted interviews with 95 women of Kytherian Greek heritage
living in the three places, and I engaged in participant observation. For this paper, I focus on the
16 interviews I conducted with women living on Kythera in 1993 as well as field notes from
short visits I took to the island between 1988 and 1993. I examine the interviews and my notes,
and I relate the major themes identified by the women with respect to the constraints women
experience and the opportunities they find to exercise their agency.
The paper consists of four parts. Part 1 is the Introduction. Part 2 provides a historical
context for the intersection of gender, class and nationality in Greece, generally, and on Kythera,
in particular. It focuses on women’s migration from Greece and Kythera in the early part of the
twentieth century, and the practice of dowry/arranged marriage that shaped that migration and
left little opportunity for women to exercise their agency. Part 2, also, presents an overview of
contemporary Kythera with respect to gender, class and nationality, and as a context for the
discussion of women’s agency there.
Part 3 is a data-based discussion of Kytherian women’s agency in a context of the
intersection of gender, class and nationality at the end of the twentieth century. It focuses on
Kytherian women’s ethnic/national identity and their exercise of sexuality and education. Part 4,
the conclusion, summarizes the relationship between gender, class, and nation intersectionality
and women’s identity, sexuality and education.
Part 2: In the early part of the twentieth century, women’s only respected place in Greek
society was in the patriarchal family as a wife and mother. Marriage was critical to the status of
1


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