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

By Vangelis Calotychos | Go to book overview

9 Nationalism and Embodied Memory in Northern Cyprus

Moira Killoran

This paper draws upon these recent studies of the discursive constructions of nations within anthropology in order to examine the rhetorical devices used by two groups competing over the hegemonic understanding of the nation. I will argue that the imagining of the social body through the rhetorical device of the embodiment of memory physicalizes a sense of self continuous with a physical territory.

I build on the historian Benedict Anderson's conception of nationalism as a culturally constructed artifact. Anderson proposed that the "nation" be viewed as an "imagined community." Although all of the members of a nation have never met each other, in the minds of each lives the "image of [their] communion" ( Anderson 1983:15). If the 'glue' holding the concept of community together is its imagining, then nationalism can be conceived of as the cement of the nation. Nationalisms, then, can be viewed as discursive formations, genres of discourse, invented representational practices that weave an imaginary web of solidarity and connectedness.

Anderson posits that all communities are imagined, but also that they are distinguished by the style in which they are imagined. Recently, a number of writers have focused on the question of who is inventing the style, the genres of discourse, of the imagined community ( Alonso 1989, Bommes and Wright 1982, Handler 1985, Swedenberg 1990). By examining the various voices involved in "stylizing" the nation, these scholars are part of a growing project that recognizes that by focusing on "a people" or "a culture," anthropologists may be reinforcing nationalist projects ( Handler 1985). Scholars have also examined how this imagining of communion is constructed by various rhetorical devices, such as statistics ( Urla 1993), kinship ( Alonso 1988, Brow 1990), and the peasant ( Swedenberg 1986, 1990).

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