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Cyberspace/cyberpast/cybernation: Constructing Hellenism in hyperreality

  • Yannis Hamilakis (a1)

Abstract

This paper looks at representations of antiquity in cyberspace and discusses their meaning and position in global discourses on nationalism and identities. After a critical review of some recent discussions of globalization and the informational society, it adopts the concepts of ethnoscapes, mediascapes and ideoscapes in examining the deployments of representations from antiquity in the web pages constructed by the Greek state, private organizations, and mostly Greek diasporic communities and individuals. It is suggested that organizations and individual social actors construct in cyberspace the national topos of Hellenism. In this process, representations from antiquity play a central and crucial role. Many social actors, mostly away from the ‘homeland’, form modern Hellenic ethnoscapes by projecting the national narrative and constructing an imaginative heterotopia where the personal becomes national and vice versa. These representations act as the currency of the symbolic capital of antiquity, a crucial resource in the foundation of the imagined community of the Hellenic nation. At the same time, they become an effective weapon in the ritual battles and contestations around the polarity between Greece and the West. Finally, representations from antiquity become a device which contributes to the ‘domestication’ of the cyberspace, its transformation from space to place, and its ‘materialization’ through the materiality that the representations of antiquity allude to.

Cet article passe en revue les images utilisées pour la représentation de l'antiquité dans l'espace cybernétique et discute leurs sens et leur place dans le discours global sur l'identité nationale et le nationalisme. Aprés une revue critique des discussions récentes sur la globalization et le gouvernement de la société par l'informatique, les concepts d'ethnoscapes, mediascapes et ideoscapes sont adoptés pour examiner le déploiement des représentations de l'antiquité dans les pages WEB construites par l'etat grec, par des organizations privées et surtout par les individus et la diaspora en grande majorité grecs. Il est suggéré que les organizations et les acteurs sociaux individuels, construisent dans l'espace cybernétique des topographies nationales helléniques. Les représentations de l'antiquité jouent un rôle central et crucial dans ce processus. De nombreux acteurs sociaux, la plupart exilés, loin de la terre maternelle, construisent des ethnoscapes helléniques modernes par la projection d'un narratif national et la construction d'une ‘heterotopia’ imaginaire où le personnel devient national et vice versa. Ces représentations sont la monnaie de la capitale symbolique de l'antiquité, une ressource décisive pour la fondation d'une communauté imaginaire de la nation hellénique. En même temps, ces représentations deviennent une arme efficace dans les batailles rituelles ainsi que dans les contestations autour de la polarization entre la Grèce et l'Ouest. Finalement, les représentations de l'antiquité deviennent l'instrument qui contribue à la domestication de l'espace cybernétique, à sa transformation d'espace en place et à sa matérialization au travers de l'objectification des représentations de l'antiquité.

Zusammenfassung

Dieser Artikel beschäftigt sich mit den Darstellungen der Antike im Cyberspace und diskutiert deren Bedeutung und Position im globalen Diskurs über Nationalismus und Identitäten. Nach einer kritischen Rückschau auf jüngere Diskussionen über Globalisierung und Informationsgesellschaft werden die Konzepte Ethnoscapes, Mediascapes und Ideoscapes angewandt, um den Einsatz von Darstellungen der Antike in Internetseiten zu untersuchen, die vom griechischen Staat, von privaten Organizationen und vor allem griechischen Gemeinden und Individuen in der Diaspora erstellt wurden. Es wird nahegelegt, dass Organisationen und individuelle soziale Akteure im Cyberspace den nationalen Topos Hellenismus konstruieren. Dabei spielen Darstellungen der antike eine zentrale und entscheidende Rolle. Viele soziale Akteure, meist fern der ‘Heimat’, formen moderne hellenische Ethnoscapes, indem sie die Nationalgeschichte(n) darauf projizieren und eine phantasievolle Heterotopie konstruieren, bei der das persönliche national wird und umgekehrt. Diese Darstellungen fungieren als Währung für das symbolische Kapital der Antike und sind so eine entscheidende Ressource bei der Gründung der vorgestellten Gemeinschaft der hellenischen Nation. Zugleich werden sie zu einer wirkungsvollen Waffe in den rituellen Schlachten und Auseinandersetzungen um den Gegensatz zwischen Griechenland und dem Westen. Schließlich werden die Darstellungen der Antike zu einem Werkzeug, das zur ‘Domestikation’ des Cyberspace dient, zu dessen Transformation von Raum zu Ort und zu dessen ‘Materialisierung’ durch die Materialität, auf die die Darstellungen der Antike anspielen.

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