"United We Stand" The Collective Mobilisation of African Women in Athens, Greece




Zaphiriou-Zarifi, Viki

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The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice


This paper explores how African women in Athens are collectively mobilising to resist and manage the exclusionary and othering processes they all-too-often face in their everyday lives. In particular, it focuses on the activism of the United African Women’s Organization (UAWO) and its mobilisation of the ‘African woman’ identity in the fight for greater livability in terms of both material conditions and social intelligibility. Applying the notion of ‘acts of citizenship,’ formulated by Isin and Nielsen (2008), the paper illustrates the ways in which UAWO works towards claiming citizenship rights for non-citizens creatively, performatively, and in multiple spaces. In so doing, the paper also explores how UAWO seeks to challenge, and potentially transform, the categories of recognition available to African women in Athens.



Viki Zaphiriou-Zarifi is a researcher and activist working on migration and gender. Before completing a doctorate in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Viki worked as a gender consultant at the UN and with smaller organisations in Malawi, Pakistan and Greece. Drawing upon her background in the arts, Viki often uses participatory and collaborative methods in her work, such as visual diaries and interactive theatre techniques. Most recently, she has written a chapter for the forthcoming publication, To Exist is To Resist: Black Feminism in Europe (Pluto Press, 2019). Viki is currently working with female asylum-seekers and refugees in London and is writing a book based on her ethnographic research with African women in ‘crisis’ Greece.


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