"Living in the File": Kinship & Political Surveillance in Post-Civil War Greece

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Katherine Pendakis


Little attention has been paid to the ways in which political surveillance practices have historically intersected with a cultural logic of kinship or actual kin relationships, despite the fact that intergenerational effects of state surveillance have been observed. This article aims to open up this important avenue of research through a reflection on the relationship between kinship, political surveillance and state persecution in post-civil war Greece. Drawing on narrative interviews and borrowing from the emerging ethnographic work on the agentic qualities of state documents, this article analyzes the unexpected ways in which the citizen file (fakelos) created a form of political inheritance for the children of leftists. I argue that a cultural logic of kinship was central to anticommunist surveillance practices after the civil war and that these practices ultimately rendered political identity a matter of lineage, something transacted through patrilines, fixing fathers and sons (and sometimes uncles and nephews) in a shared political genealogy. 

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