Mara Sfountouri, former intern and researcher at the Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC), has been longlisted for the Volkskrant-IISG thesis prize. Mara wrote her Master’s thesis, Writing home. National identity in expatriates’ letters, 1978-2009, based on material from the collection of the EAC.
Mara summarises her thesis, “The concept of national identity has caused several academic debates throughout the years. Especially after the 1980’s, the processes of globalization and migration induced a rise of nationalism on both sides of the Atlantic and stimulated the research on national identities. As a result, most studies on national identity concern either the native populations and how they experience globalization and migration within the boundaries of their own country, or the immigrants, and the way their sense of national identity gets affected by migrating to a foreign land. It is a fact though that expatriation, meaning working or studying in a foreign country for a specific period of time, is a practice which also exemplifies the globalizing world of today’s era.”
“Within this framework, it is remarkable that hardly any historical studies deal with the practice of expatriation in the light of national identity. Hence, there is a historiographical gap that my research aims to cover. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the ways two expatriate families identify with their homeland, while living abroad in the period 1978-2009, as this procedure is expressed through their private correspondences. More specifically, I aim to discover how these expatriates’ national identity is being negotiated and (re)adapted while living far away from their own country. I also investigate what the role of homesickness and nostalgia is within this process, and how these feelings are (not) affected by the introduction of new communication technologies in the course of the 1990’s.”
Mara also gave a well-received presentation (see below) about her research at the academic symposium, The Expatriate Experience: Past and Present, organised by the EAC in The Hague in April this year. The EAC would like to congratulate Mara on her nomination and wish her all the best for her future studies.
See all the nominations for the Volkskrant-IISG thesis prize.