Cyprus and Its People: Nation, Identity, and Experience in an Unimaginable Community, 1955-1997

By Vangelis Calotychos | Go to book overview

Cyprus or who have Cypriot parents or who feel for the country--are faced with a predicament that echoes many of the dilemmas faced by postcolonial critics and writers who wish to intervene in matters of their "homeland." Quoting a character from Rushdie's Shame as he confronts this postcolonial predicament, we might ask: "is history to be considered the property of the participants solely? [. . .] Can only the dead speak?" Here is the dilemma of the subject who yearns to find a place from which to seek a just solution and articulate his or her case. Many of the contributors to this volume have been directly affected by the recent cruelties and dispossessions of Cypriot history, and they are conscious of their responsibility and the significance of the positions that they choose to project by their scholarship. For many, particularly those resident in Cyprus, such choices draw fire and criticism daily: the assumption of a position at the cusp of the nation and its narration is a life choice. As a result, the opinions expressed, in this introduction as well as in the main body of this volume, are those of the individual authors and do not in any way reflect the views of sponsoring bodies.


Notes
1.
See Maksoudian ( 1975); and Pattie ( 1997) for work on Armenian Cypriots in Cyprus and in the diaspora.
2.
This endeavor is clearly informed by some of the theoretical works mentioned in the next paragraph, and, in particular by Anderson ( 1991) and Bhabha ( 1990).
3.
The Canadian Institute for International Peace & Security in Ottawa did achieve a more balanced perspective at three workshops--held in November 1988, February 1989 and April 1989--which culminated in a seminar in June 1989. The published proceedings in Lafrenière E & Mitchell R., Cyprus- -Visions for the Future: A Summary of Conference and Workshop Proceedings ( November 1988-June 1989) attest to the international perspective attained at these meetings. However, despite the undoubted success of the conference, it was not interdisciplinary enough to allow for a deep understanding of socio-psychological, anthropological, and, particularly, cultural dimensions. Moreover, the cultural dimension of the relationship was given only to explain the reasons for the crisis; and not put to work proactively to cultivate the ground for a solution. A second publication issuing out of these workshops, Norma Salem ed., Cyprus: A Regional Conflict & Its Resolution, London: St. Martin's Press, 1992, selects and prioritizes the publication of essays with a conflict resolution approach to the differences over other cultural or psycho-social perspectives that did not figure in the book at all. A notable Turkish Cypriot attempt to pursue the issue of identity took place in London in June 1987 at a meeting of Turkish Cypriot intellectuals and writers. "They (. . .) tried to identify the point of 'Turkish Cypriot Identity in Literature' by distilling it through its historical, sociological, economic and psychological perspectives and capturing it in the art of literature" (8). The proceedings have been published in Kizilyürek, Naldöven, Yasin, Yasin, Yücel ( 1990).

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