Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cyprus fieldwork: Lidras Street displays; divided cities

Cyprus fieldwork notes extracts

On the 12th of February 2006, I walked around Nicosia (Lefkosia in Greek, Lefkosa in Turkish, both pronounced Lefkosha in their respective Cypriot dialects).

Before recording various displays at the "end" of Lidras Street - where it is cut in half by the Green Line - I noted, at 8am, that,
personally, but entirely unrealistically, I'd like to see Cyprus simply independent and united. Practically, I'd like to see Cyprus independent and united but federal, both to ensure the protection of minority communities and idealistically, in the existence of sites of sanctuary, to provide the feeling of security for each community that would militate against defensive nationalism and those of Erich Fromm's forms of aggression.
Wandering around the new city, I noted, at 1.30pm, "prosohi[,] oikodomi epikindyni etoimorropi", "warning, dangerous derelict building", then
Dimos Lefkosias
Epikindynos Oikodomi

Nicosia Municipality
Dangerous Building

Lefkosa Belediyesi
Tehlikeli Bina
then, two sports/political graffiti tags, "Omonia" and "Apoel", all of which were on a historic building being used as a store by a car mechanic, car parts yard or some such thing.

At 1.40pm, passing a new city site under development, I noted a sign that warned, "kindynos[,] vathies ekskafes", which means, "danger, deep excavations".

As the light faded, I circled the sculpture at the end of Lidras Street that shows human rights written down, materialised, but pierced, destroyed by a rain of arrows or spears.

At 5.30pm, looking at the other material culture interpretations of Cypriot history and expressions of Greek Cypriot ideology, woven into the fabric of social space at a site of memory, first, I observed the "'peace' mural plaque on Lidras Street funded by the 'Ninth World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations Convention[,] Cyprus 2001'".

Second, I observed a "notice over the viewing platform from Lidras Street into the Dead Zone" that reads,
Tipota den kerdizetai horis thysies kai eleftheria dihos aima
Nothing is gained without sacrifices and [neither is] freedom without blood.
Third, I observed the exclusive appropriation of the identity of victimhood embodied by the inaccurate, official inscription declaring,
The last divided capital
La derniere capitale divisee
Die letzte geteilte haupstadt
Lefkosia is not "the last divided capital [in the world]"; Florian Waldvogel points out that another is "Jerusalem as designated by the United Nations". Lefkosia is not even, as the standard statement goes, "the last divided capital in Europe"; Joshua Muravchik relays that Saul Singer, who lives in Jerusalem, identifies Belfast and Sarajevo as "divided capitals".

More than these, however, the Greek Cypriot administration and Greek Cypriot community members who employ this terminology do so to exclude, to write out the Others who could also claim victimhood and so they try to inscribe a notion of a singular, Greek Cypriot victimhood, suffering, martyrdom.

The Greek Cypriots who make play of the fact of partition use the material culture - the cultural heritage - of the divided capital to reify this notion, using the Green Line to write out "competing" claimants to victim "status".

Mitrovice/Mitrovica in Kosova/Kosovo and Mostar in Bosnia-Hercegovina are "only" divided by rivers, despite the fact that both Mitrovice/Mitrovica (according to the United Nations Interim Administration In Kosovo (UNMIK)) and Mostar (according to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)), have been the sites of lethal ethnic violence far more recently than Lefkosha has. It is also worth noting that there have been many other divided capitals and divided cities in the past, notably Berlin in Germany and Beirut in Lebanon.

Fourth, I observed a sign, as far as I can tell from the "SPE Strovolou" signature, presented by the Strovolos Crime Prevention Council (Symvoulia Prolypsis Egklymatikotitas), that read, "pros timi ton agoniston tis patridas mas", which I think translates roughly as, "towards the values of our fatherland".

Fifth, I observed,
the display beside the intersection of Lidras Street and the Green Line on "agnooumenoi apo tin tourkiki eisvoli sti Kypro", "Missing persons as a result of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus", including a board with the United Nations General Assembly's 15th of January 1976 [9th of December 1975] Resolution 3450 on missing persons in Cyprus.

There is an update that "hundreds of persons are still missing as a result of the Turkish invasion/occupation of Cyprus in 1974. For most of them there is evidence which proves their arrest by the Turkish army[...]"; the update obscures the resolution's articles (only the preamble is visible).
Resolution 3450 is careful to talk of "a considerable number of Cypriots" or "persons" "missing as a result of armed conflict in Cyprus", as both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots went missing. (I am unsure whether "Greek Cypriots" and "Turkish Cypriots" includes or excludes "minority Cypriots", who were forced to identify and ally themselves with one of those two groups; so, I am unsure whether any minority Cypriots went missing.)

At 6.30pm, I jotted down some graffiti that, "apohi-akyro apo tis eklogikes avtapates" with an anarchy/anarchism "A", which, as far as I can gather, means something like, "abstention - invalid from [invalidate? refute? immune to?] electoral self-delusions/self-deceptions".

Formatting has been changed to make it easy to read in a blog.

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