Second-Generation “Return” to Greece: New Dynamics of Transnationalism and Integration



Based on in-depth narrative interviews with 64 second-generation Greek-Germans and Greek-Americans who have “returned” to Greece, this article explores intersections between return, transnationalism and integration. Having grown up with a strong Greek identity in the diaspora, second-generation “returnees” move to Greece mainly for idealistic, lifestyle and life-stage reasons. However, most find living in Greece long-term a challenging experience: they remark on the corruption and chaos of Greek life, and are surprised at the high level of xenophobia in Greek society, not only towards foreign immigrants but also towards themselves as “hyphenated Greeks”. The “return” to Greece provokes new “reverse” transnational links back to their birth country, where they still need to keep in touch with relatives and friends, including caring obligations towards parents who remain abroad. Some contemplate another “return”, back to the US or Germany.

Policy Implications

  • Policymakers responsible for integration should not assume that the second generation has no connections with its parents' country of origin.
  • In the diasporic home country (in this case Greece), more effort should be made to facilitate the reintegration of the second generation returning ‘home’ and to break down discrimination towards hyphenated Greeks.
  • Greek policymakers should pay heed to homecoming second-generation Greeks in order to benefit from their bicultural insights into how Greek society can be improved, especially as regards efficient public services, transparent employment opportunities, better environment management, gender equality, and the elimination of racism and discrimination.