On ambivalent nativism: Hegemony, photography, and “recalcitrant alterity” in Sphakia, Crete



The mountainous region of Sphakia in Crete strongly evokes notions of ruggedness, masculinity, and “tradition,” both in Greece and internationally. Recent anthropological studies of power and imagination (particularly in Greek society) have argued that local claims to tradition as well as stereotypes about the ruggedness of those who dwell in hinterlands necessarily reflect and promote the cultural domination by centers of peripheries. In critically responding to these studies, I offer a comprehensive exploration of the volatile field of subjectifications and cultural dynamics produced by and between Sphakians and spectators of the region. In doing so, I turn to the visual as a particularly rich field of practices that rupture concepts of structural subjugation. In examining such spheres as Sphakians’ photographic reappropriation and indigenous critique, I elucidate the dynamics of dominance but also capture other productive possibilities unleashed in the context of an “exoticized” society.