It used to be a country people emigrated from. During the greater part of the 20th century, the Greek diaspora spread and linked up throughout the globe. But the fall of the Soviet Union transformed the flows of people in Europe and beyond. By 2001, Greece had an immigrant population of over 762,000 – about half of which were Albanians. Photographer Enri Canaj and his family were among those who left when communism fell in the small Balkan country. The memories of starting a new life in Greece, coupled his adoptive country’s seemingly never-ending economic and social crises, form the basis of his project “Shadows in Greece.” Some things have changed since his childhood, others have remained the same. But without judgement, he captures the underbelly of a gritty Athens that seems as abandoned as the Olympic Village the country spent billions of dollars on in 2004. He joined R&K from Kukes in Albania.
Roads & Kingdoms: When did you leave Albania for Greece?
Enri Canaj: I left Albania when I was 11 years old. During the early 1990s, Albania’s political system changed. It was total chaos. I left Tirana with my family, but I couldn’t understand why at the time. For me, my country was beautiful and I was just a child. We went to Athens by bus. The journey last more than 15 hours. I remember that my parents sold all our possessions and I felt like I would never return.