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The (Re)negotiation of Community Identities in Cyprus

Co-Pls: Yiannos Katsourides, Evgenia Mesaritou and Mertkan Hamit

Research Assistants: Chrystalla Agathocleous, Aycan Akcin and Nikandros Ioannides


Aims and Objectives - Summary


Focusing on the Greek and the Turkish Cypriot communities, the project explores the ‘culture wars’ over community identities in Cyprus, and their stakes for the two communities’ local character and values. These ‘wars’ unfold in the public, societal and political spheres between opposing stakeholders in each community. Although they take different forms and content in each case, the core issue is similar: the (re)negotiation of community identities amidst an increasingly complex contemporary regional setting.

This (re)negotiation becomes particularly salient at present owing to three processes that have been recently gaining prominence: the efforts to solve the Cyprus Problem, immigration pressures and the Cyprus EU accession. These processes have highlighted significant issues permeating community values and identities.

At the heart of the (re)negotiation of community identities in Cyprus is the place of religion and nation. In the TC community, culture wars take the form of the Islamization threat purposely promoted by the Turkish government as a tool for controlling the community. Ιn the GC community the culture wars play out as battles between actors and groups in the community that want to maintain a strong affiliation with Greece in the context of the so called Helleno-Christian ideals and those that want to highlight the distinct characteristics of the (Greek and Turkish) Cypriots (Cypriotism – kypriotismos). 

The project aims to shed light on the ‘wars of identity’ in Cyprus. Drawing and commenting on work from the fields of sociology, social anthropology, religious studies and political science, it aims to explore issues such as who are the main stakeholders in the debates over identity, what discourses they articulate, how these are framed and how they link to their political stances; how are ‘religion’, ‘nation’ and ‘secularism’ operationalized in debates over identity; what are the forces shaping ‘Cypriotism’ in both communities; and what is the impact of European identity discourses on the re-constitution of community identities.

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