1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Dionisios Kavadias

Fieldwork Completed

M.A. University of Chicago 2007
B.A. St. Mary's College of Maryland 2003

P.O. Box 400120

Amidst the current national economic crisis, Greeks who predict the end of the olive industry redouble their commitment to growing olives on family-owned lands, incurring personal debts and spurring relatives in Athens to migrate ‘back’ home to labor in the groves. These investments and commitments suggest that, for Greeks, olive cultivation resonates beyond just the monetary, but is getting mobilized in culturally meaningful ways in the turmoil. Preliminary research conducted in the olive growing province of Messinía, Greece, suggests that the production and consumption of olive oil creates two things essential to Messinían family relations: 1) a natural ousía, an essence or substance consumed in the form of shared food, and 2) a ‘cultivated’ peri-ousía, which in common parlance refers to a family’s fortune, property, or wealth. This proposed research suggests that basic assumptions of what it means to produce and share family relations in Messinía also inform common practices of producing and sharing material wealth. What does the cultivation of ousía and periousía mean to Greeks and how does it inform their economic strategies on an everyday basis? This proposed research aims to identify the processes with which Messiníans construct kinship substance and material wealth as analogous concepts, through ethnographic research on olive cultivation and the uses of olive oil in Messinía, Greece.

Specifically, I propose to shadow and learn from 1) olive growers in the groves, 2) mothers and wives in the home kitchen (in both rural and urban settings), 3) men at the coffeehouses, and 4) participants of ecclesiastical and vernacular rituals. This research builds on anthropological literature that pinpoints the intersection of kinship, agriculture, personhood, and the social life of ‘substance’ by taking an ethnographic look into the production, discourses, and uses of homemade olive oil in southwestern Greece. In particular, it bridges a Hellenic model of morality (that stresses boundary maintenance and ‘integrity’) to a well-traveled theory of kinship that stresses behavioral codes and the transmission of substance (especially through food-exchange). I suggest the possibility that a singular, multivocal substance—like Messinían, family-made olive oil—can shift so routinely and purposefully between the domains of kinship-making and wealth-making as to help us better comprehend the dynamic tension between the two.

Specializations

Kinship, food, agriculture, nationalism; Greece; Public/digital scholarship

Graduate Students

Haytham Althubaiti
Pre-Fieldwork
Cory-Alice Andre-Johnson
Conducting Field Research
Jeffrey Attridge
Pre-Fieldwork
Julia Barnes
Pre-Fieldwork
Irtefa Binte-Farid
Fieldwork Completed
Lee Bloch
Fieldwork Completed
Erika Brant
Fieldwork Completed
Alison Broach
Fieldwork Completed
Tracie Canada
Conducting Field Research
Jacqueline Cieslak
Fieldwork Completed
Dannah Dennis
Fieldwork Completed
Brandon Dillard
Pre-Fieldwork
Bremen Donovan
Conducting Field Research
Grace East
Pre-Fieldwork
Kyle Edwards
Conducting Field Research
Anna Eisenstein
Fieldwork Completed
Johnathan Favini
Pre-fieldwork
Macario Garcia
Fieldwork Completed
Ann Githinji
Fieldwork Completed
Julia Jong Haines
Completed Fieldwork
Ida Hoequist
Pre-Fieldwork
Carolyn Howarter
Fieldwork Completed
Erin Jordan
Pre-Fieldwork
Jiyeon Kang
Conducting Field Research
Dionisios Kavadias
Fieldwork Completed
Kristin LaHatte
Fieldwork Completed
Sue Ann McCarty
Fieldwork Completed
Zachary McKeeby
Pre-Fieldwork
Michelle Morgenstern
Conducting Field Research
Nathalie Nahas
Fieldwork Completed
Jeffrey Nicola
Fieldwork Completed
Susan Palazzo
Fieldwork Completed
Mary Pancoast
Fieldwork Completed
Xinyan Peng
Pre-Fieldwork
Natalie Pope
Pre-Fieldwork
Xiaolei Qu
Pre-Fieldwork
Saad Quasem
Pre-Fieldwork
Alessandro Questa
Fieldwork Completed
Grace Reynolds
Fieldwork Completed
Jessica Rigney
Pre-Fieldwork
Giancarlo Rolando
Fieldwork Completed
Ekaterina Sevastakis
Pre-Fieldwork
Harri Siikala
Fieldwork Completed
Sheena Singh
Fieldwork Completed
Gregory Sollish
Pre-Fieldwork
Josh Wayt
Pre-Fieldwork
Michael Wenzel
Conducting Field Research
LuAnn Williams
Fieldwork Completed
Uzma Zafar
Pre-Fieldwork
Mingyun Zhang
Pre-Fieldwork