ISSN: 2241-6692

Within the Nation and Beyond: Mediating Diaspora Belonging in My Life in Ruins

Υiorgos Anagnostou


This essay undertakes a transnational analysis of gendered diaspora belonging in the Hollywood film My Life in Ruins (Petrie, 2009). The departure point for analysis is a cultural crisis, namely the dissonance experienced by the film’s heroine, and more broadly among Greek Americans ‘returning’ to Greece, between the yearning to belong and the actual experience frustrating this longing. I argue that the film resolves this crisis when it posits diaspora as an object of nationalist discourse, a position that enables the heroine to identify with the nation. I show that the film represents an example of unofficial nationalism that reproduces key ideological tenets of the Greek official national narrative of belonging. The film performs additional cultural work beyond representing diaspora as an object of nationalism to also portray it as a historical subject acting upon and beyond the nation. First, it registers diaspora agency to mediate Greece and the United States and reconfigure social realities within the former. Second, it moves beyond the nationalist polarity of us/them to accommodate diaspora’s transnational affinities and multiple identifications. The film invites us therefore to think of diaspora’s belonging simultaneously within and outside nationalism, alerting our conversations with multicultural publics yearning for deep belonging with Greece.

Keywords: diaspora nationalism, en/gendering diaspora, Greece in Hollywood, Greek Americans, diaspora–homeland encounters, transnational Modern Greek studies