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Property and ritual relationships on a Greek island

Kenna, Margaret E (1971) Property and ritual relationships on a Greek island. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94458) (KAR id:94458)


This thesis is based on 16 months' fieldwork on the island of Anaphi in the south-eastern Cyclades, and among the émigré Anaphiot community in Athens. Two fullscale ethnographies had already been produced on Greece; Campbell's (1964) on the Sarakatsani of north-western Greece, and Friedl's (1962) on the village of Vasilika in Boeotia. My aim in choosing Anaphi was to complement these studies by examining an island community in the hope of promoting comparison and, ultimately, the generation of hypotheses for future fieldwork in Greece.

The chapters of the thesis give an account of the social organization of island life. Anaphi has many links with the social and economic system of Athens - Piraeus. There is regular contact between island and mainland when island men go to the city for summer seasonal work, and when émigrés come to the island for summer holidays and for the major island festival. The gap in the farming year after harvest in June provides an opportunity for three months' seasonal work in the city, and the difficulty in accumulating enough subsistence from farming for the whole year's needs gives the incentive for seasonal migration, yielding cash wages to buy subsistence goods and other necessities. Islanders who are shepherds are not able to leave the island but they receive a cash income from the sale of sheep and goats twice yearly to visiting meat merchants.

Seasonal migration and the economic bases of island life are also connected to the various stages of the domestic cycle. A man is a workman when he marries and when, on his father's death, he receives his share of the natal family estate he stops working for others, no longer goes to the city as a seasonal migrant but works his own lands, and later employs others to work for him.

All these factors (economic position, stage in the domestic cycle and contacts with émigrés and with non-Anaphiots in Athens) have an effect on a man's influence and position within formal and informal political activity on the island.

Underlying what might be called the pragmatic aspects of island life - land, farming, seasonal migration - are ideas about being an islander, a Greek, and a civilized human being, which are phrased in religious terms and define the word Christianos. It is vital for an islander to be a Christianos. and this is attained through baptism which makes an individual a Christian, a Greek, and an islander. In baptism a child is given a name which links him or her to previous generations in his parents' families. Names give rights to property, houses for girls, land for boys, acquisition of which, involves obligations to the souls of the dead. Usually these rights and duties apply to children and parents, but they also obtain between godchildren and godparents. The unmarried or childless who stand as godparents are assured of care in old age, and immortality after death; the godchild is assured of property which his own parents cannot afford to give him.

Naming of children, sharing out of the family estate over the years as dowry and inheritance, and the performance of funeral and memorial ceremonies for the souls of the dead are patterns of behaviour which express major principles of social structure on Anaphi. These principles form the theoretical basis of the thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94458
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 15:00 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2023 15:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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