Vol 33 (2013): Special Issue: Working Lives: Special Issue on Oral History and Working-Class History

“Migrants’ Nights”: Subjectivity and Agency of Working-Class Pakistani Migrants in Athens, Greece

Emilia Salvanou
Published December 10, 2012


This paper draws from Jacques Rancière’s study La nuit des proletaires: Archives du rêve ouvrier (Paris: Fayard, 1981) and approaches the alternative narratives that members of a migrant community who settled in Athens (Greece) for the last twenty years develop as a discourse of resistance against a marginalizing reality. With material collected from participatory observation and migrants’ interviews and life stories, it argues that the Pakistanis of the specific community use their everyday experiences and the cancellation of their aspiration for upward social mobility through their working identities as a basis to cultivate an alternative approach to reality during their leisure time. In such a context, they adopt roles from an imagined utopian version of their life courses and actively question their devaluation and marginalization. They therefore form communities of memory and intimacy that promote the production of a “home” in the place of their “diasporic settlement.”