From the Author
A year ago, as I was writing the Preface for the print edition of Dangerous Citizens, Athens was burning during the December Events that followed the killing of a young high school student by a Special Forces policeman. As I was trying to understand the Events intellectually, I was also trying to find ways to include that material in the print book and integrate it into the larger analysis of the trajectory of political culture in Greece, but time limitations on the manuscript did not allow for the inclusion of anything more than a simple reference to the Events.
This is precisely the conundrum that the online book resolves. It provides the author with infinite possibilities for the expansion of the text through ongoing research, facilitated by the same medium that makes this electronic form possible. Infinite possibilities for research and analysis means that the author is always on the precipice—the precipice of interminable engagement with a project, but also that of looking into the abyss of one's own desire for such infinity. One such abyss is the place that Parerga occupy in my work—the shadow text that accompanies the main one. As I allowed my thought to run on further expanding the existing text, adding more material, more analysis, more resources, the Parerga seemed the natural place for such an expansion. Until it became apparent that the electronic edition of the book is itself a Parergon, maybe even in the sense that Kant or Schopenhauer understood Parerga, as separate objects walking in tandem with the main work.
In the span of time between submitting the manuscript to Fordham University Press for the print edition and the present, I was able to expand the scope of the original study and to sort out a number of resources and materials that I had set aside as unusable in the print book. I was able to conduct more in- depth research on Tito's concentration camps on the (now) Croatian islands Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur. A preliminary report is included in this edition, accompanied by photographic and video material.
I was also able to explore the resources that were made available to me by the Director and staff of the Exile Museum of Ai-Stratis, in Athens. The museum, a real treasure trove for research, under the guidance of its Director, Mr. Harilaos Sismanēs, holds the entire archive of the painter Katerina Hariatē- Sismanē comprising over 1500 pieces of unpublished correspondence from the time when she was a political prisoner and exile, original artwork, and personal effects. With the consent of the Museum, the correspondence will eventually be transcribed and deposited to the Columbia University Academic Commons, so that it can be made accessible to other researchers. The Museum also holds articles belonging to other political exiles on the island of Ai-Stratis, which will be gradually incorporated in this electronic project.
This online book is not meant to replace or displace the print edition. Its territorial space is virtual; to the flatness of the print page, it counterposes the imaginary of endlessness, it allows one to open one's cards, so to speak, to show the intellectual and scholarly work that goes into conceptualizing, researching, and producing a book. It enables the author to share resources, explore connectivities that are not immediately apparent, provide a synaesthetic experience of the presented ethnography, hear what the sounds of the place are, follow the threading of associations that interlocutors make in sight and in sound. But it is also a space where the tactility and finitude of the printed page recede in the absence of the smell and sound of the paper. It is a space that is deeply ambivalent as it is deeply desired. It is a new space and only with time and usage will its identity be formed, out of the crevices where it has been imagined.
Having been invited to inhabit this brave new space, where everything and anything seems possible, I could have easily been lost had it not been for the support of the team at the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia University. With the guidance of Rebecca Kennison, the Director of the Center, the team of geniuses who made this electronic edition of the book possible worked with infectious enthusiasm and astonishing efficiency. I am indebted to the dedication of the entire team, and particularly to Risa Karaviotis, Merran Swartwood, and Eva Terzopoulos who sat with me with infinite patience to sort out documents, photographs, links, and other resources that I had considered unusable because of the limitations of the print edition, but which they were able to make usable and sharable. But none of this would have been possible without the support of Helen Tartar, my editor at Fordham University Press, who was the first to imagine and admit to the possibility of Dangerous Citizens as an (also) online book.
November 25, 2009
About the Author
Neni Panourgiá is Associate Professor of Anthropology and affiliated faculty at the Institute for Comparative Literature and Culture, and the Harriman Institute. She is on the Advisory Board of the New York Academy of Sciences. She has published articles on the political dimensions of architecture, on the theory of anthropology, epistemology, on the ethnographic method, on death and mourning, on issues of health, the question of biopolitics and the body, and the political dimensions of culture. Her first book Fragments of Death, Fables of Identity received the Grand Jury Prize of the International Society of Ethnohistory and the Chicago Folklore Prize. She is co-editor with George Marcus of Ethnographica Moralia (2008, Fordham University Press). Her new book, Dangerous Citizens. The Greek Left and the Terror of the State (2009, Fordham University Press, and dangerouscitizens.columbia.edu) analyses the modalities employed by the Greek state in its efforts to disaggregate and eradicate political dissent through the use of legal interventions, imprisonment, and political concentration camps and exile.