Eleusis 2021

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The EUrbanisation theme is made up of 4 programmes, corresponding to significant areas of the challenge-need to redefine our relationship with the other. The programme “europe, daughter of phoenix” focuses on the way in which europe relates to foreigners, with emphasis on the issues of migrants and refugees.

This programme is inspired by the mythical figure of Europa, combined with the human geography of Eleusis. According to myth, Europa was the daughter of Phoenix, the Phoenician king; Zeus fell in love with her and took the form of a bull in order to abduct her. Seated on the back of Zeus the bull, Europa travelled from Phoenicia (modern-day area of Syria-Israel) to Crete. Europa had three sons by Zeus: Minos, who reigned in Crete; Rhadamanthus, who was known for his wisdom; and Sarpedon, who reigned in Lycia, modern-day Asia Minor. The genealogy of mythical Europa provides an inextricable link between our continent and the explosive regions of the contemporary Muslim world, and also the issue of immigration and refugees. Mythology urges us to treat these populations as our close relatives.

Eleusis is a city of migrants and refugees. The largest population groups in the area include Cretans and descendants of refugees from Asia Minor. The latter arrived in Greece in 1922, after the destruction of Asia Minor, causing a major crisis at the time, since their influx practically doubled the city’s population. They settled in “Synikismos”, a neighbourhood in Upper Eleusis, dominated by purpose-built homes for refugees. Today, with the subject of migrants and refugees becoming a major European issue, Eleusis offers valuable expertise on how it managed that crisis, as well as on the role migrants and refugees can play in the development of a city.