Oikos-Centric Models: Environmental NGO Discourse in Cyprus

Agrotou-Jraige, Panayiota, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Bashkow, Ira, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Lefkowitz, Daniel, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

The trend to "study up' in anthropology has led many scholars to unpack their ethnographic toolkit in sites that are commonly perceived as the sites of ‘power': the state, bureaucracies, and NGOs. In the rich literature on NGOs, the drive has been to focus on the inner workings of these organizations. Though the interactional moment between NGO and local populations looms large over most scholars work, few analyze it. As a result, scholars often assume the effects of NGO work on local populations and the local populations response to NGO messages. In this paper I present and analyze a recording of an environmental NGO worker's educational presentation to a group of Greek Cypriot students. By examining this narrative both in terms of the cosmopolitan and local Cypriot world-view, I will show that what may seem at first to be a straightforward translation of the cosmopolitan environmental message, Greek Cypriot students can perceive this conveyance as a recapitulation oflocal perceptions of the world. Though the NGO is typically thought of as an engine of social change, at times coercive, in this case, the core elements of Cypriot culture are maintained, dressed in a thin veil of cosmopolitan environmentalism.

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MA (Master of Arts)
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