This section examines how Cypriots articulate, contest and use history in everyday situations. It is suggested that the richness of experience may allow for different historical narratives that can contradict the official ones. What is remembered and forgotten plays an important role in forming the structure of a (hi)story. In the case of Cyprus, the official ambivalence over certain historical events leaves even more space for individuals to construct their own narratives. Nevertheless, it is also the case that official history may itself provide the structure onto which various narratives of the past come to be articulated.
Greek Cypriot Narratives
My research in the Greek Cypriot side was carried out in the area of Kato Enories (Lower Parishes), lying within the medieval Venetian walls of the Old Town. This is an area bounded by the walls on the one side and by the Green Line, that after 1974 became a fixed border, on the other. The population of the area is diverse, fragmented and unhomogeneous due to the movements that took place as a result of interethnic conflict, the 1974 war, and a movement of people to more fashionable outskirts of Nicosia. Proximity to the 'enemy' from 1958 onwards and its decaying character has given this area a rather eerie character and people who visit it often wonder how others can live 'so close to the Turks'. 
I have chosen to divide my informants in groups according to the following criteria: age, area of residence and/or work, and political party affiliation. These distinctions are important because significant differences emerged from my fieldwork data regarding the ways in which people who belong to different groups within these categories articulate the modern history of Cyprus. A reading of the history of the island would also give one good a priori reasons to expect this, as will become clearer in the light of the following discussion.
The category of age is used to indicate different generations. I use this term as Lison-Tolosana defines it: 'a sociological generation is an age group that share a common mode of existence or concept of life, who assess the significance of what happens in terms of a common fund of conventions and aspirations'(1983:182). Since I am mostly dealing with the modern history of Cyprus, that is the period after 1955, the division of my informants into generations is important to the extent that some people have lived during this period while others, those who are younger, have just learned about it. Thus, while narrating the history of Cyprus, some do so from their experience as 'lived history' while others just know of it as 'learned history'.
In order to better illustrate my point, I compare how two rather distant generations articulate their versions of history. One comprises of those born before 1940, who are now over 50 years old. These people were about fifteen or older when the struggle of EOKA commenced. The other is those born after 1965, who are now 27 or younger. This younger generation has not lived through - or is too young to remember - much of what took place before 1974. What they know of the modern history of Cyprus they have learned in various ways. The different experiences of these two generations give rise to different views of the past.
The younger generation's versions of history are quite similar and stereotypical since they are too young to actually remember any of the events that took place before 1974 and what they know comes mainly from school and the media. The role of direct intergenerational transfer is not easy to asses even as a 'participant observer' as much of it takes place in the private domain of the home. Overall, my impression was that the influence of education and the media was more pronounced.
In general the younger generation recounts the modern history of Cyprus as follows: 'In 1955 the EOKA struggle started for the independence of Cyprus. This was achieved in 1960 and from there on Cyprus was independent until 1974 when Turkey invaded'. The coup may or may not be mentioned; if it is, it is recounted in these terms: 'the coup in 1974 gave Turkey the excuse it has always wanted to capture Cyprus'. This narrative is clearly structured around the public commemorations that take place on the Greek Cypriot side, the celebration of the start of EOKA , the anniversary of independence, and the rituals of lament for the coup and the invasion.
It is significant here to point out that very little is known about the modern history of Cyprus from school in the form of proper instruction. It is only after about 1980 that the history of Cyprus was included in school curicula; before there was only the history of Greece. Furthermore, even after the introduction of the history of Cyprus, it has been given much less time than that of Greece. The most serious attempt to teach the history of Cyprus is made during the final year at high school. Even then, very little is taught on the modern period, as the bulk of the syllabus deals with the ancient and Hellenistic period. Several teachers I spoke with indicated that time constraints often do not allow them to reach the last chapters dealing with the modern period.
That knowledge of history is thus structured by the commemorative rituals, that also take place at schools on the appropriate days, then comes as no surprise. It rather points to the strength and effectiveness of these rituals in shaping social memory, especially of those who have not lived through this period and only have recourse to 'learned history' but not to that of the 'lived' kind. What is not commemorated, as the above analysis shows, is destined to social forgetting. It is assumed that nothing significant occurred during the gaps or that it was a period of well being, for as Hegel remarked 'periods of human happiness and security are blank pages in history'. If one is not aware of the intercommunal fighting during the period of independence and the Greek Cypriots' official demands for enosis during the EOKA struggle and later, then the Turkish intervention of 1974 seems to have come out of the blue. Indeed, the only way then to justify it is by putting all the weight on the idea that 'Turkey always wanted to capture Cyprus'. The younger generation's view of history also suggests that if history is seen from this angle, there are no grounds for questioning the Greek Cypriot claim that 'we used to live well with the Turkish Cypriots'.
The elder generation having recourse to its experience from 'lived history' presents a rather different picture. Nevertheless, a casual question from an outsider, especially foreign, will most likely elicit a view of history almost identical to the one presented by the younger generation. This is the reaction I also received when I first started my fieldwork. The political problems of Cyprus have made Greek Cypriots painfully aware that to a great extent the solution of the Cyprus problem depends on foreign powers and the ability of Greek Cypriots to persuade them of the truthfulness and validity of their claims (both past and present). As a result, any encounter with an outsider is treated as an occasion to perform - what has almost become - a duty of making the other aware of the problem and how it has risen, by recounting the official view of history.
It is also likely that the official history has come to provide a way in which to structure their experience of the past. In being narrated as a story, in the form of history, the multiplicity of experience and reality is given form, continuity and coherence by the official history. In this sense, the circularity of the relation between experience and story is clearer: a story may be based on experience but at the same time a dominant story may structure people's experience of the past, provide the meaning and - up to a point - determine what is remembered and what is forgotten by highlighting certain aspects of experience. Thus, despite the conflict in the area, the question 'how did you use to live with the Turks?' would was almost always answered 'epernousame kala (we used to live well)'.
It is however significant to note that the way these people talked of the past was often self-contradictory, even when talking of one particular issue and in one particular context, let alone when changing topics or contexts. This might not be surprising given the violent swings of history that they have lived through and the different ideologies that have emerged, which would often be accompanied by radical revisions of the past. In order to illustrate this I will take up two issues, namely the changes in the perceptions of the EOKA struggle and of Turkish Cypriots.
Some of the people I spoke with were either members of EOKA or had supported it in various ways. For them enosis was the highest ideal for which they may have been prepared (as some did) to give their own lives; yet, after 1974 enosis became a bad word, one that it was almost impermissible to even utter. During our conversations, I could sometimes sense a discomfort while discussing the aims of the EOKA struggle. They knew very well what they had fought for: it was enosis, that was at the time a glorious cause. Many of the fighters were very young then (Markides 1974) and union with Greece was portrayed in the classrooms and outside as the highest ideal that one could strive for. But later, especially after 1974, this word came to almost signify treason and it is nowadays considered by most Greek Cypriots as a major cause of the current problem. As one man around sixty put it to me in a series of elliptical statements:
While it may not be very easy to make complete sense of a this statement out of context, it was contextually fairly clear. The gaps indicate the difficulty in finding the right expressions. Using 'then' implies that he knows that this is not the case any more; talking of enosis as the 'highest ideal' pursued by the 'cream of the youth' shows both the idealistic and pure nature of the struggle. This contrasts with the subsequent pursuit of enosis that was possibly motivated from self-interest and even treacherous. That 'times changed' shows that later enosis may not have been a proper aim and that those who used to appeal to it may have done so for ulterior motives.
The change in the status of the Turkish Cypriots after 1974 is also quite significant. The pre-1974 situation was one where two mutually antagonistic groups would occasionally (between 1958 and 1974) engage in armed confrontations. Both sides still regard the dead from the incidents of intercommunal violence as heroes and hold commemorative ceremonies in their honour. Greek Cypriots call the events of 1963 'i tourkoantarsia (the Turkish mutiny)' as they argue that the Turks were trying to undermine the status of the republic and set up their own administration in accordance with their separatist aims. What is significant is that during a large part of the independence period when serious clashes between the two ethnic groups were taking place, the Turkish Cypriots were mostly regarded as 'Turks' and the 'enemy' (and vice versa). After the events of 1974, however, things changed as the need to reunite the island made Greek Cypriots reevaluate their aims. This led to the desire to live peacefully with the other ethnic group, that were being referred to more and more as the Turkish Cypriots (rather than the Turks); the past was also recast as one of 'peaceful coexistence'. The Turkish Cypriots could even be referred to as 'brothers' and reunification of the island with its corollary idea of 'epanaprosegisi (rapprochement)' came to be the new collective aims.
Since the older generation has lived through these changes - if not outright reversals - of ideology and rhetoric, it is not surprising that the discourse it uses has come to carry mixed elements of both discourses, thus sometimes appearing as quite confused as well as confusing. One of the clearer statements of this repeatedly came from a man of around 70 who lived most of his life in Kato Enories. He often remarked that 'epernousame kala me tous vromoshillous (we used to live well with those dirty dogs [i.e. the Turks])'. This indicates the tension between the two ways of thinking about the past. On the one hand epernousame kala has now become the standard way to talk of relations with the Turkish Cypriots. The word vromoshilloi according to a number of my informants from both sides, was widely used by Greek Cypriots in the past, especially in the 1960-74 period to refer derogatorily to the Turkish Cypriots.
It is often when not talking about History (as political history per se) that different stories, or experiences emerged. This might be while talking about the area in general (those who moved there at some point would talk of their lives where they grew up), certain concrete past events or about various individuals. While the discourse of History appears to be rather dominated by the official history, in other contexts or discourses different histories may emerge.
Concepts of space and time, that may inform any conversation, often show a different view of the past than the one put forth by the younger generation (and the official one). When elders talk of troubles (fasaries) or war (polemos) it is not always clear whether they mean 1963, 1967 or 1974. People who grew up in Kato Enories might even say 'when the troubles started. . .(amman arkepsan oi fasaries..)' meaning the intercommunal conflict of 1958 that took place in the area. By contrast, to the younger these words refer solely to 1974. Concepts of space also indicate the differing experiences of the older and the younger generations. The dividing line, i Prasini Ghrammi (the Green Line as it is usually called), was informally enforced in Kato Enories from the colonial period due to the 1958 events. In 1963 it took the form of a semi-permanent division and in 1974 it became permanent. While the elders may refer to the creation of the Green line, or to the beginning of the division of the two communities meaning some time at or before 1963, the young ones associate 'division' exclusively with 1974.
When I was given permission to visit the northern part of Nicosia in order to carry out research there, for the younger people I was going to the 'occupied area (katehomena)'. This was accompanied by a feeling of a shock (and in few cases of suspicion) that a Greek Cypriot was to be allowed to cross the dividing line. Many of my elder informants reacted rather differently. They were still surprised that I was allowed to cross but much less so than the younger ones. They would refer to the other side as 'the Turkish neighbourhoods (oi tourkomahalladhes)' and would sometimes say (especially the men) that 'before we also used to go over there (prota epiennamen tze 'meis potzi)'. 'Before' means prior to 1974 and this phrase shows how the 'over there', that is the boundary, existed before 1974 even though it was then, depending on the political climate, possible to cross. Thus, the tourkomahalladhes were even before 1974 somewhat out of bounds and then became completely out of bounds. The elder generation's experience is richer than what the official history allows for and their stories of the past may include accounts of intercommunal peace and cooperation as well as others of violence and killings.
It is noteworthy that during my fieldwork it was generally late, as I was acquiring a status of an 'insider', that the incidents of conflict were more openly mentioned while initially there was much more talk of 'coexistence'. Furthermore, if incidents of conflict were recounted, at the start of my fieldwork the people of Kato Enories would insist that it was usually 'xenoi (outsiders)' not locals who caused these or participated in them. Indeed, a number of stories (also confirmed by Turkish Cypriots) revolved around some of the attacks or riots in the area. If a Turkish Cypriot riot passed through the area, the Turkish Cypriots would protect their Greek Cypriot neighbours from harm and vice versa. Such accounts indicate that personal relations would sometimes transcend ethnic divisions. Nevertheless, towards the end of the fieldwork, Kato Enoriates sometimes mentioned that some locals (but not themselves) also took part in these. Admissions that Turkish Cypriots were killed during such incidents also came during the later part of my research.
Coming now to the question of why there seems to be so little intergenerational transfer of these memories, the answer, I think, is to be found in the government's policy of rapprochement. An integral part of this policy is keeping silent of intercommunal conflict and especially of the other side's losses. As Loizos (1981:111fn.) also points out, Greek Cypriot authorities keep silent about the atrocities committed against the Turkish Cypriots. Among Greek Cypriots there is a strong belief that mentioning incidents of intercommunal killings, especially of Turkish Cypriots, is against Greek Cypriot interests; it will be more difficult then to support the idea of past 'peaceful coexistence' and by implication the idea that Greek and Turkish Cypriots can live together in the future.
The international aspect of the problem is also important. There is always the fear that would the Greek Cypriots admit to atrocities against the Turkish Cypriots in an attempt to - so to speak - clean the slate and show to Turkish Cypriots that Greek Cypriots are aware of these and regret them, the Turkish Cypriots might not reciprocate this gesture. Even worse, they might use this to sway international public opinion in favour of their view that the past demonstrates that Greeks and Turks in Cyprus can not live together.
Hence, there is a tendency among Greek Cypriots who have lived through these kinds of events to avoid talking about them. Whether this is a conscious effort to comply with the policy of their government or due to the structuring of their memories and experience by the official narrative of the past, it is difficult to say.
Another reason why they tend to avoid recounting events of intercommunal violence is that this is precisely what Denktash, the leader of Turkish Cypriots, continuously does. It has come to be widely accepted by Greek Cypriots that anything he says is just 'propaganda'. This is a very strong word and its meaning within the context of the Greek Cypriot society is close to 'deceitful lies', or 'purposeful twisting of reality'. Thus, if a Greek Cypriot does talk of killings of Turkish Cypriots, s/he immediately risks being labelled a traitor and a teller of propaganda 'just like Denktash'. Indeed, even a casual look at the Greek Cypriot press would indicate that one of the strategies that all political parties use in order to discredit their opponents, is to argue that what the others are saying is similar to what Denktash has claimed or might claim. This strategy is used to overcome the need to examine the truth claim of any statement; if it is shown that Denktash also supports (or might support) the same position, it is immediately deduced that the statement should be rejected as it is either a lie or against Greek Cypriot interests. (The equivalent of this with regards to Greek Cypriot claims also applies to Turkish Cypriots).
How do then people talk of these events? At this point I am faced a moral dilemma as some of the people who talked about them would often say 'these are against us, don't write them (men ta ghrapseis touta, en enantion mas)' while others, for reasons I will discuss later, insist that these should be 'written'. It is rightly taken that every anthropologist should respect the desires of her/his informants. In this case, however, there is a conflict between these desires. If my responsibilities as an anthropologist are divided, my status as an insider inclines me to discuss these for what I see as the necessity to confront these aspects of our past. I have then decided to describe in general terms how people have talked to me about various killings and other events of interethnic violence, without going into details and without revealing the identity of my informants.
The first thing to note is that these descriptions were almost always made in private conversations. Once when I attempted to make an inquiry in a coffee shop, I was cautioned that 'these are not the kinds of things one talks about in coffee shops'. This is despite coffee shop conversation (kouventes tou kafene) being regarded as 'empty talk' (kouventes tou aera). Secondly, even if they were made in private the tone was often rather 'conspiratorial' in the sense that there was a lowering of the voice and the informant would edge closer to me while describing the events. Finally, the descriptions almost always involved others as the prime actors, while the speaker had either witnessed these or heard about them. This certainly raises questions regarding the truth of these events or the motives of the informant for telling me these. Cross checking however, with other Greek and Turkish Cypriot informants, points to the truth of some of these claims.
Certain groups of informants seemed not to share the official narrative but explicitly questioned it. One of these groups was the 'ones struck by the Turks (oi tourkoplihtoi)', a word bearing connotations of natural disaster. These are people who, out of insecurity or because they were forced, left their homes at some time during intercommunal incidents from 1958 onwards but mostly after 1963. Some of them moved to areas that were later affected by intercommunal violence and they were once more forced to relocate. Some used to live in areas where the Turkish Cypriots were the majority and left because of fear, threats, direct expulsions or due to these areas becoming parts of the Turkish Cypriot enclaves. These people, having lost their homes, tend to emphasize the causes of this and also complain of their unjust treatment by the government that did not give them adequate compensation or aid. They often use the term 'refugee' to describe themselves and may even say 'I was two times a refugee' meaning that they had to relocate twice. In using the word 'refugee', they point to the injustice of the government that has given ample aid to the 'refugees of 74' but no aid to themselves who are also 'refugees'.
Some of the elder inhabitants who were born and grew up in the area might also stress incidents of violence, mostly in the context of a 'local history', rather than a 'national' one. They did this in order to demonstrate to outsiders, how despite the conflicts they did not abandon their houses, and by doing so effectively 'saved the area from falling into Turkish hands'. As the borders in the area have been rather fluid it was often due to the persistence of some people who stayed in their homes or even actively resisted, that the border now stands at its present location. 'If we had left', they argue, 'the Turks might have taken the whole street as there was no one else living there'. Furthermore, that some decided to stay encouraged others to also follow their example and this again discouraged the other side of taking over part of the area. It is instructive to note that the name by which the two neighbourhoods in Kato Enories, that have been almost exclusively inhabited by Greek Cypriots (Hrysaliniotissa and Ayios Kasianos), have come to be known is akritikes enories (border parishes). Herzfeld (1982) has shown the importance of the akrites in Greek historiography and folklore, as the heroic guardians of the borders of the Byzantine empire against Muslim intruders. This group actively remembers, in the context of the local history, what official history leaves out as silent gaps and this memory is often put in active use.
This area is rather run down, has a bad reputation as a residential setting and its inhabitants are rather poor. Thus claims to 'heroic resistance' in the area could be seen as attempts to increase - what Bourdieu (1977:59) calls - 'symbolic capital', in the face of a general lack of 'economic capital'. Furthermore, it is sometimes possible to convert 'symbolic capital' into 'economic' either in the form of economic aid from the government or even in the form of a newly built house. Since the authorities and media also celebrate the 'heroism' of the akrites of Kato Enories, the residents of the area, especially the older ones, or those whose family has been living there for some time, sometimes come up with financial demands that they may manage to successfully claim from the authorities.
A further distinction I would like to make is between those who have lived in predominantly Greek Cypriot areas and those who grew up in mixed areas. Again the concept of experience appears useful, in so far as memory is significantly influenced by past experience. People who lived in mixed areas have much more to say both quantitatively and qualitatively about the relations with the Turkish Cypriots. Their stories may often swing from cases of coexistence and cooperation to others of conflict and animosity. Those living in predominantly Greek Cypriot areas do not, comparatively speaking, have much to say about the Turkish Cypriots.
An important point of divergence between the accounts of the past that these two groups put forward, whether this be in the context of recounting the 'national' history (of Cyprus), local or personal history, lies in their treatment of the 1960-74 period. Differences in concepts of time and space are very similar to the ones previously discussed with regards to different generations. Those who lived in mixed areas talk of the 'division', 'troubles' or even 'war' referring to a point in time between 1963 and 1974. Those who lived in predominantly Greek Cypriot areas tend to omit this period, or briefly mention it as a period of economic welfare. When they do talk of violence during this period they usually talk of 'epeisodhia (incidents)' which is a much weaker word than 'fasaries (troubles)'. Usually, they have been informed of episodheia either by the media or by others and did not themselves live through these. Thus, if they know of them they are part of a 'learned history' rather than 'lived'. I will consider later the important qualitative differences between these. As Markides (1977:30) points out, during this period the 'government controlled [i.e. Greek Cypriot] economy was developing in economic leaps and bounds' and for those who lived in predominantly Greek Cypriot areas this is primarily how they remember the post-independence period. This in effect means that they remember very little from this period. The Greek Cypriot official silence also contributes to this.
The last significant factor with regards to differences between accounts of the past is that of political party affiliation. I confine my discussion to supporters of AKEL and DISI. Even though DISI is a relatively new party compared to AKEL, most of the supporters of either party that I have spoken to felt that the conflict between them started well before DISI was founded as a conflict between the 'left' and the 'right'. Indeed, most of my elder informants (to whom I am now referring) who belong to these parties often use these terms or others that broadly correspond to these, while discussing the politics of the past.
Generally speaking the view of AKEL's supporters is that the 'right' turned against them 'from the very beginning'; first Grivas excluded them from EOKA, then they were branded as 'traitors' and were even 'killed' or 'terrorized' by EOKA. Later, it was the 'right wing fanatics' that were responsible for the killings of many Turkish Cypriots and left wing Greek Cypriots during the period of independence. When EOKA B was set up, left wing Greek Cypriots were one of its prime targets, as they were also supporters of Makarios. Some of the younger supporters of AKEL can even remember the events of the coup and their family's fears that the putschists might at any moment enter their homes to arrest or kill their parents (also cf. Loizos 1981:65-77). Some of the people I spoke to who had been in the army during the post-1967 period when it was controlled by junta-appointees, have many memories of harassment to the point of torture in the hands of the Greek officers.
To a significant extent, AKEL has been trying to appear as a solely class-based party by arguing that workers, whether Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot, should present united front against both foreign interests and domestic exploitation. Even if AKEL sometimes adopted a more nationalistic line it was still the party with the closest links with the Turkish Cypriots.
Hence, Greek Cypriot supporters of AKEL seem to feel that in a sense they have been traditionally facing the same enemy as the Turkish Cypriots, namely the extreme right 'now hiding under the roof of DISI'. They resent the fact that those responsible for their past sufferings and for those of the Turkish Cypriots and who with their actions during the coup eventually brought catastrophe to Cyprus, have never been punished. Cyprus is small enough to often allow for the sighting down the street of the person who 'burst into my house and arrested me during the coup'. Seeing on television (e.g. during a parliamentary debate) some of the people who, according to the supporters of AKEL, collaborated with the putschists, creates even stronger feelings of anger and injustice.
Since what actually occurred in Cyprus has in their view not yet been properly 'written down' they would sometimes insist that I should make sure I write these down. Blaming the 'right' for the inter- and intracommunal killings and the eventual division of the island is an attempt to bring about justice for what official justice has not dealt with. Oral discourse may be the only way that some kind of revenge can be extracted, by making sure that memories of inter- and intracommunal violence are not forgotten, especially given the 'silence' that Greek Cypriot authorities keep over these issues. As they may be powerless to otherwise bring about the 'missing' justice, there seems to be little they can do but to - whenever the opportunity arises - talk about the actions of the putschists and make sure that those events are not forgotten.
Blame was sometimes put squarely on the right by detailed descriptions of events and persons but it was mostly expressed by elliptical statements such as: 'it's all our fault..(emeis ftaimen ghia oulla..)' or 'it's also our fault, we also did [to the Turkish Cypriots] quite a lot.. (ftaimen tze 'meis, ekamamen tous tze 'meis kamposa..)'. The missing referent in these is of course the Cyprus Problem. The meaning of 'we' or 'our' is ambiguous. While it appears to refer to Greek Cypriots in general, it is contextually clear that it is really the 'right' that ought to be blamed. This is sometimes directly expressed by saying: 'they did it all (toutoi ta ekamasein oulla)'. But since the statements previously presented are mostly uttered when the actors of the narrative are the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, 'we' stands for Greek Cypriots in their totality. In my view, a certain process of negotiation emerges during these accounts whereby those of the left are prepared to accept part of the blame as passive witnesses for what took place (since they are also part of the Greek Cypriot community). Yet, they admit to this guilt in order to shed most of the blame on the shoulders of the right.
Those of the right put forward a rather different version of history. They argue that the 'communists' are not real 'patriots' as they have not taken part in any of the struggles of the Cypriots and do not ideologically espouse the 'Hellenic-Christian ideals'. AKEL, they claim, has always been controlled by Moscow and it has been serving Moscow's interests rather than those of the Cypriots. The coup was an outcome of treason from the junta that was collaborating with American interests or was deceived. No Cypriot can be called a 'praxikopimatias (coupist)' as the Cypriots involved in EOKA B did not really know the 'grand-plan' but were fighting against Makarios who had betrayed the ideal of enosis. Or they may say that while they do not necessarily approve the actions of EOKA B, Makarios's regime was not really democratic but rather authoritarian, 'just like Chaousheskou in Romania'. The word they use is prosopokratiko, meaning 'person centred', i.e. that all power was concentrated in the hands of only one person, Makarios. The coup was sometimes referred to as the 'revolution (epanastasi)' in an attempt to portray it as an uprising of the people against an authoritarian regime (also cf. Loizos 1981:65). Those of the extreme right, especially if they took part in the fights against the Turkish Cypriots, may regard their involvement with pride. They justify those actions as an attempt to preserve the legal status of the republic and counter Turkish Cypriot separatist attempts that, in trying to create their own self-controlled areas, were in fact trying to divide the island in order to bring about taksim. The official Greek Cypriot silence with regards to the 1960-74 period leaves ample space for this interpretation of the past.
Turkish Cypriot narratives
This section presents the Turkish Cypriot narratives of the past obtained during my fieldwork. Admittedly, my description will be much 'thinner' than the one of the Greek Cypriots and does not allow me to make the kinds of distinctions I have made above. Most of my interviews in the northern part of Nicosia were made in the presence of an official from the Turkish Cypriot Public Information Office (Enformasyon'dan). What is presented here is that which has been confirmed by further research in London and Turkey. During my stay in the north side of Nicosia I made about 48 lengthy interviews out of which 40 were made with official accompaniment and 8 on my own. During my 1990 stay in Turkey I made 8 more interviews and 10 during the period of research in London. The people I spoke to in Cyprus were almost all males who had been living in the area where I did my research on the south and left in 1963. Most of them were around 50 or older. Sometimes I spoke to women who had been living there and in very few cases I also spoke to some of their children. I spoke with very few Turkish Cypriots who were living in the south until 1974. The second major research took place in Turkey during a three month period which I spent living among a group of young Turkish Cypriots. Their views are discussed at the end of this section.
I previously noted how the stories I received from my Greek Cypriot informants changed while my status changed from that of an 'outsider' to that of an 'insider'. The fact that on the Turkish Cypriot side I almost invariably met my informants once and my status was very much that of a 'suspicious outsider' has not allowed me to document what may have taken place had I spoken to people there on my own and had I come to know them better. In fact, my feeling was that Turkish Cypriots were quite surprised to - all of a sudden - come across a Greek Cypriot and may have felt I was some kind of representative of the Greek Cypriot government. Thus what I was told may have been what they would have liked to get across to the Greek Cypriot government or Greek Cypriots in general. It is quite plausible that coming face to face with a Greek Cypriot willing to hear their views, after a long period of living apart, may have given them the opportunity to express their complaints or emphasize the pain that they felt Greek Cypriots did not quite understand.
I mostly used open questions in the interviews where I would ask people to talk to me about their lives in the form of a 'life history'. From there on I would rarely interrupt the flow of the description except to ask questions of the sort 'and after that how were things?' allowing the narrator to talk to me about what s/he wanted.
Almost invariably from the beginning of the interview 'life histories' turned into something more like 'political history'. While in the start of the narrative it was often said that 'before 1955 things were good' this was just mentioned in passing and people would soon start talking about how bad things became after 1955. Turkish Cypriots locate the start of their problems at the start of the EOKA struggle for enosis. The cause of enosis is what brought the start of the conflict between the two ethnic groups that led to the 1958 interethnic violence. Along with these the need to defend themselves arose and for this they set up TMT their own organisation whose aim, they point out, was always defensive. It was an attempt to defend themselves against the aggression of EOKA.
Turkish Cypriots argue that independence was never accepted by the Greek Cypriots whose aim always was and still is enosis. Thus, they viewed the attempts of Makarios to change the constitution in 1963 as an attempt to facilitate enosis and the events of 1963 as an attempt by Greek Cypriots to force them into submission. Those events are very prominent in the memory of Turkish Cypriots. They vividly described the fear and insecurity that engulfed their lives once the first intercommunal killings took place and how they suddenly realised that they were 'surrounded' by Greek Cypriots as they were arithmetically the minority and wherever Turkish Cypriots lived, Greek Cypriots would live all around. Out of fear for their lives they left their homes, many of them during the night without having had the opportunity to take any of their belongings with them. Many thought that they were leaving temporarily. They went to other areas where more Turkish Cypriots used to live and where they felt more secure, especially after those gradually became enclaves with their own administration and out of bounds for the Greek Cypriots. They remained enclosed there for four years, from 1963 to 1967 with almost no contact with Greek Cypriots.
The period between 1963 and 1967 they consider as the most distressing of their lives. Having had to relocate without taking any of their belongings, they became 'refugees' having to sleep on relatives' floors, in schools, other public buildings or tents until more suitable accommodation was found. (The descriptions of the experience of Turkish Cypriots’ plight as refugees were strikingly similar to those I received from Greek Cypriot refugees from 1974, extensively presented in Loizos ). During that period they had strong fears for their survival and many said that 'we did not know if we would wake up the next morning'. Some pointed out that friends or relatives of theirs had disappeared during that period and are still missing. It is, I feel, indicative of their evaluation of the scale of these events that the word 'savash (war) was often used to describe them. When they talk of that period they say 'gochmenidik (we were refugees)'. The use of the past implies that they no longer feel like refugees but that they consider their current homes as their own permanent ones. Very little desire to return back to their previous homes was expressed.
This period was also one of poverty and economic suffering as Greek Cypriots had imposed a trading embargo on many goods such as gas and building materials for fear these might be used for military purposes such as barricades. Thus, it was very difficult to build new houses or to repair the ones they were living in which were gradually falling apart. Life in the enclaves was very hard and venturing out of the enclaves was not only risky, as some who had done this never returned, but also potentially degrading. This was because in order to come out they had to pass through Greek Cypriot checkpoints where they could be subject to harassment. They would be searched thoroughly, subjected to long delays and during the searches some of the things they were carrying with them were broken or confiscated. Theses searches were particularly insulting to the women. If no female Greek Cypriot officer was present at the barricade, they would have to wait until one was summoned, something that could take hours. One woman described, almost in tears, a search on her way to a relative's wedding that left her 'white dress full of dark dirty blotches'.
After 1967, the stabilisation of the political situation and the abolition of checkpoints made their life more 'normal' by allowing them to venture out of the enclaves more freely. It was during this period that many of them had a chance to visit their homes. This was an especially traumatic experience as they discovered that their houses had been looted or destroyed. As one man put it:
The experience of returning to one's old neighbourhood and house and seeing it all destroyed contrasts with the situation of the Greek Cypriot refugees. Since Greek Cypriots have never been allowed to return, they mostly remember their homes fondly as they left them and their desire to return may be based on the expectation that their home will still be there as remember it. The Turkish Cypriots, by contrast, who saw their homes after 1967, could not entertain these sorts of expectations and this may partly explain why they show very little desire to return. Another important consideration is that the desire to return may be influenced by the kinds of memories that people associate their previous places of residence with. I have previously described how Greek Cypriots mostly recall the 60's and early 70's as a period of economic progress and security. For Turkish Cypriots, this was a period of poverty and insecurity which seems to have lessened their desire to return. The extent to which this also applies to those who relocated during 1974-5 I could not establish as I only spoke to very few of them.
When the 1974 coup took place many Turkish Cypriots felt that they then faced a real threat of extinction as an ethnic group in Cyprus. This was partly because they saw in the face of Sampson, who became the new president for a few days, the rise to power of the most extremist elements among Greek Cypriots. While most did not express much liking for Makarios, they were extremely fearful of Sampson, who had reputation as a man of violence having led a number of attacks against Turkish Cypriots during the periods of interethnic violence. As a one man put it:
EOKA B was viewed by Turkish Cypriots as a continuation of EOKA, expressing a general Greek Cypriot desire for enosis. The common allusions to enosis throughout 1960-74, by Greek Cypriot leaders of all persuasions, could not but send the message to Turkish Cypriots that all Greek Cypriots equally desired enosis. The arrival of the Turkish army was greeted with feelings of relief and from there on most feel that their lives became normal and secure, for the first time since the first incidents of the late 1950's.
Nevertheless, Turkish Cypriots still feel threatened by Greek Cypriots. One source of this is the military build-up in the south (widely publicised in the north) that they fear may be one day used to launch an offensive against them. Greek Cypriots justify this as a necessary precaution against the possibility of a further Turkish offensive and one sees very little indication in support of a military adventure against Turkey among Greek Cypriots. In this respect the situation in Cyprus has evolved into an unfortunate vicious circle of armaments that reinforces each side's belief in the need for more defensive equipment. Greek Cypriots' commemorations of EOKA (which Turkish Cypriots can watch on Greek Cypriot broadcasts that most can receive and which are widely commented upon in the Turkish Cypriot press) are interpreted as signs that the desire for enosis is still alive on the Greek Cypriot side. Seeing the widespread use of Greek flags, whether in national celebrations or along the Green Line, also reinforces the belief that Greek Cypriots still want to unite with Greece. Yet, they do not seem to consider that similar fears (i.e.that Turkish Cypriots desire or have achieved taksim) exist among Greek Cypriots when they see the widespread use of Turkish flags by Turkish Cypriots.
Many Turkish Cypriots expressed negative feelings towards the Greek Cypriot Church as they associate their past suffering with the reign of Archbishop Makarios. It was repeatedly pointed out to me that 'the Church turns Greek Cypriots into fanatics'. Having followed all the secularizing trends instigated by Ataturk in Turkey, they tend to be skeptical with regards to the role of religion and especially suspicious of the involvement of religious leaders in politics.
As one 60 year old man put it to me:
The present archbishop is viewed with hostility as they feel that his views are extremist and that he has great power in influencing Greek Cypriot public opinion Statements of his that 'one day we will go to Kyrenia' are interpreted as threats that one day Greek Cypriots will attack the Turkish Cypriots and throw them in the sea. In the same way, they interpret the dhen xehno symbol of Greek Cypriots (that is accompanied by a picture from northern Cyprus) as a desire by Greek Cypriots to one day capture the north and resettle the Greek Cypriot refugees. 'Where are we going to live ?' they ask. This comment is significant in pointing out that the possibility of them returning to the places where they previously lived is not treated as viable. Many of the people I spoke to would take advantage of the opportunity of meeting a Greek Cypriot to make their own inquiries with regards to the situation on the other side. The most common questions I was asked were whether the Greek Cypriots still wanted enosis, whether they were indeed preparing for a war and what is the role and strength of religion among the Greek Cypriots. Their reactions to my replies indicated an overestimation of the significance or impact of these factors. Despite these it was not uncommon for someone to inquire with almost burning interest, if I knew this or that friend of theirs, if s/he was well and ask me to give them regards.
The second period of fieldwork took place in Turkey where I met a group of about 30 Turkish Cypriots in their early twenties with whom I lived for a period of three months. Most of these were of left wing views. While they shared most of the themes previously described, certain important differences also emerged. The word they mostly used to describe themselves or those with whom they agreed was 'barishji (one who wants peace)'. The group they explicitly distinguished themselves from were the 'millyetji (nationalists)' by which they meant either those of the right in general or the supporters of Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot president, in particular. Their general view was that a solution to the Cyprus problem would be desirable especially in the light of the economic problems that Turkish Cypriots now face and they felt that the current Turkish Cypriot leadership is not in favour of any solution.
While to a large extent they shared the Turkish Cypriot view of history previously described, they also made some finer distinctions such as that it was not all Greek Cypriots that were to blame but the extremists or nationalist Greek Cypriots. This belief went hand in hand with their view that the Turkish Cypriot left had itself been the victim of Turkish Cypriot right wing aggression. Thus, there was a consciousness that Turkish Cypriots had also been killed by Turkish Cypriots and that the problem lied with extremist nationalists from both sides. They felt that future cooperation and coexistence with Greek Cypriots was possible and tended to stress the commonalities between Turkish and Greek Cypriots, differences between Turkish Cypriots and Turks and the problems between Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus and Turkish soldiers, immigrants or seasonal workers.
Yet, this is not to say that they did not express fears towards the Greek Cypriots. Most would say that they did not think it would be a good idea for the population of the two ethnic groups to be mixed in the future and felt that some form of guarantee to Turkish Cypriot security was necessary. As far as they were concerned, some form of accommodation with Greek Cypriots that could help solve their economic problems without jeopardizing their security, and that would not allow Denktash to monopolize political and economic power (as they feel he currently does), would be desirable.
Before ending this section I would like to make some comparative comments with regards to the accounts of the past derived from Turkish and Greek Cypriots. The first regards the relative importance of the 1960-74 period in the historical narrative. Greek Cypriots who did not live in mixed areas (and who are the definite majority among Greek Cypriots) usually pass over this period very quickly as one of well being, having little to say about it. By contrast, the Turkish Cypriots by and large talk only about this period. It is significant here to note that the Turkish Cypriots being arithmetically less than one quarter of the Greek Cypriots all felt that they used to live in mixed areas. Even if their village was all Turkish, if the region as a whole was taken into account they were again the minority. Thus, their experience of the period in question was closer to that of Greek Cypriots who lived in mixed areas and who are not the majority.
When Turkish Cypriots compared their lives before and after 1974 they would stress the security and freedom of the latter period. They might say this directly but it was often also expressed indirectly in saying things like, 'after 74 I can sleep in peace during the night', or 'I now know that there is a future for my children' or 'now I can go and visit my relatives in the village any time I want'. For some, this newly acquired freedom and security is also said to have brought about economic progress, at least in the sense that in the post-1974 period they were able to work freely, buy whatever they wanted and become their own bosses (while many before had to work for Greek Cypriots). While they are aware that the south is much richer and has less economic problems, it seems that in evaluating their present condition they do not compare themselves with the Greek Cypriots now but with themselves in the past, that is before 1974. This did not seem to apply to the Turkish Cypriots I met in Turkey who may have come from the less privileged strata of Turkish Cypriot society and for whom the comparison was between the south and their current position in the north. Overall however, considerations of security seemed to outweigh those economic welfare.
Secondly, if one looks at the rituals organised on a semi-official or unofficial level, one notes that the two sides stress the two different aspects of social memory that their leaderships also stress in official commemorations as these are expressed by dhen xehno and unutmayajagiz. Greek Cypriots organize a large number of events to get people from the same village together, commemorate the life of the village and express their desire to continue the struggle for return. Turkish Cypriots organize mourning rituals for those who died at each confrontation or locality as well as commemorate the date of the Turkish army's arrival at various localities as their liberation (kurtulush).
Finally, the accounts of Turkish Cypriots (with the exception of those of the left who are more keen on a change of the status quo) attain 'narrative closure', that is their history has an end. The 'Peace Operation' is thus viewed by many as having brought about the end of their ordeal and the start of a new life that they now want to preserve. The accounts of Greek Cypriots do not attain narrative closure as the 1974 'invasion' signifies the start of the problem that now has to be resolved. The public rituals on each side express these very same ideas. On the Turkish Cypriot side, the rituals that reflect the latest events are those of the 1974 commemoration of the 'Peace Operation' and of the 1983 'Declaration of Independence' which provide the good endings. On the Greek Cypriot side, the commemoration of the 1974 'black anniversaries of the coup and invasion' is one of lament and an injustice that needs to be corrected.
A comparison of the various versions within each side indicates that the official histories within both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot side seem to converge with those that - if I dare generalize from my results - the majority of the people on each side might hold. The historical narratives of the younger generation of Greek Cypriots and those who have not lived in mixed areas both converge with the official one, especially in sharing a gap in the period of 1960 to 1974. Similarly - and this is an even bigger extrapolation - the narratives of Turkish Cypriots (who are the minority and thus in effect almost all lived in mixed areas) tend to converge with their official history in stressing conflict and the period of 1963 to 1974. What I am suggesting here is that the two official narratives may be seen to be based to a large extent on the 'experience' of a very significant part of the population. Since history (especially in the form of a narrative) is always articulated from a certain point of view, one could claim that the official histories are fairly close to each side's past experience (and future aspirations). It seems to be difficult - and I will suggest later that it may be unhelpful - to choose in favour of a 'correct' one. One would not be able to account for the fairly widespread acceptance of the official versions, if they bore no relation to people's experience, even if as I have previously mentioned official histories also give 'form' to past experience as a coherent and meaningful narrative whole.
Looking at convergences of the two sides' narratives indicates that these are more pronounced the less the 'distance from the other' is. The histories of Greek Cypriot groups that were in some way 'closer' to the Turkish Cypriots in terms of time, space or political affiliation show marked similarities. In other words, the Greek Cypriot narratives by older people, those who lived in mixed areas, or those of the left are much closer to the ones the Turkish Cypriots recount than say those of the younger generation or those who did not live in mixed areas and thus came into little contact with them.
However, it must be noted that when talking of convergence of the various histories in terms of their structure, this does not necessarily mean that their contents or meanings are similar. While groups within the two sides may articulate histories sharing the same structure (e.g. in terms of important events, similar concepts of time and space) their contents can be quite different, even opposed. As I have earlier suggested, it seems that the during much of the period between 1955 and 1974 each side regarded the other as the 'enemy'. Thus, it is usually one's own ethnic group that appears on the defensive while the other is the aggressor. Killings of people belonging to the other side are usually ignored and forgotten. If they are not, then they are regarded as acts of self-defence or legitimate killings of the enemy in situations of armed conflict. Those of one's own side who have been killed by the other side are often 'innocents' that have been 'slaughtered'. For each side their dead are either 'martyrs' or 'heroes'.
These kinds of ideas are, of course, the very stuff that nationalist historiography is made of, through its own dialectic of memory and forgetting. As Orwell put it, for example, 'the nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side but he has a remarkable capacity for not hearing about them'. More to the point, Hobsbawm quoting Renan indicates that: 'Forgetting history or getting history wrong are an essential factor in the formation of a nation..'(1992:3). Loizos (1988) illustrates how nationalist historiography in Cyprus can contribute to the creation of the social conditions within which crimes against those of the other ethnic group can be committed, legitimated and justified. Moreover, the two ethnic groups in Cyprus follow the national celebrations of the 'motherlands'. Since Greece and Turkey are in the unfortunate situation of having fought their 'independence wars' against each other, what is glorified in the context of the 'national independence rituals' is the military victory of the one over the other. This hardly appears to have given the right messages in a state where Greeks and Turks were supposed to live together.
During the period in question there have been rather few intercommunal links as geographical segregation was becoming more widespread, intermarriage was almost non existent and institutions that fostered cooperation such as the Communist Party or trade unions were either coming under severe attack from nationalists within each community or would themselves adopt a line very close to that of their own ethnic group and in doing so alienate those of the other. This lack of interethnic links meant that each side was almost exclusively aware of its own losses and hardly aware of those of the other side. The death of a Greek Cypriot would be widely presented in the Greek Cypriot media and personal links such as those of kinship, friendship, neighbourliness etc. would make this death widely felt among other Greek Cypriots. There was no possibility for deaths of those of the other ethnic group to be felt in similar ways as the other was the enemy and no cross-links existed that could affect the way that say a Greek Cypriot would feel the death of a Turkish Cypriot. It is also qualitatively different to hear or learn of the death of an acquaintance or friend from the other ethnic group and to experience at first hand the death of a close friend or relative. The second clearly had much more impact and even if a Greek Cypriot learned of a death of a Turkish Cypriot friend (and vice versa) it is doubtful whether one could openly express grief about this. The political situation in the island, the lack of interethnic links of any kind, the conflict that set each side against the 'enemy' and the legitimating mechanisms for killing 'them' meant that there was little room for any feelings of empathy to develop in-between the two sides. Calling the 1974 Turkish offensive as the 'Peace Operation' is just one striking example of such lack of empathy. Eventually, as my research has pointed out, deaths of the other side are forgotten and only those of one's own side are remembered. This along with the other ways that the two ethnic groups use memory and forgetting to structure their historical accounts contributes to the persistence in each side of a discourse of 'self-righteousness'.
Looking at the different versions of history comparatively has allowed me to bring out not only how social memory is constructed but to also examine processes and mechanisms of social forgetting. While social memory may be examined on its own without necessarily employing comparison, this is much harder to do for social forgetting. Since forgetting is 'articulated' as qualitatively homogeneous gaps or silences, without the use of comparison it is up to the 'independent observer' to fill these in where one feels it may be legitimate or important to do so. Thus, one would in effect be putting forward a different version of history, upon which the 'indigenous' can then be mapped and according to which 'gaps' would then appear. These would then be designated as 'forgettings' requiring explanation. But in this way, 'forgettings' are again 'discovered' by the comparison of two histories. This would beg the question of what criteria are used to put forth the different version of history that is assumed to be more 'objective' than the one picked up in the field. Comparing different histories from the field does not necessitate this, even though the extent to which these are accurately 'represented' might then have to be questioned.
When dealing with the recent historical past that significantly overlaps with people's memories anthropology could make a contribution not simply by presenting some of the 'voices' that are officially silenced, but by offering an explanation as to how divergent narratives may be an outcome of different positions in society that give rise to different 'experiences'. The concept of 'experience' may be useful in order to avoid the simplistic reduction of conflicting accounts of a politically disputed past to interest or propaganda (or a combination of the two). This is not to deny the role of interest, propaganda, distortion or omission in a fiercely disputed political problem such as the one of Cyprus. However, the problem is that these terms are invariably used in 'bad faith' to refer to the other's views and are hardly ever ascribed to one's own group which is purported to just speak the 'truth'.
An 'observer' looking at both sides will usually choose between two ways. S/he can designate one as 'true' and the other as stemming from a misrepresentation of the truth due to interest or propaganda. Or, one can be eclectic and pick elements from both, construct the 'objective history' and reject both 'indigenous' ones as false (or partly false). In this case, the two sides are collectivised as the other vis a vis the 'observer' who is said to possess the disinterested 'truth'. Yet, this is exactly what each side already does with the other. Could this be a similar act of 'bad faith' on the part of the 'independent observer'? As anthropology is based on the concept of empathy, in the sense of acquiring the other's/emic/insider's perspective, it may then be used more productively to describe the two sides' experiences, especially when dealing with a recent past which many can remember, even if these are also used or distorted for reasons of propaganda or self-interest.
While the concept of empathy when one is looking at more than one point of view may be thought to lead to a sterile relativism, I would like to argue that in cases of conflict where reconciliation is being sought it may have an important role to play. In the case of Cyprus, both sides appear to feel that the Cyprus Problem has not yet been solved and a solution is still sought, even if the Turkish Cypriots desire something closer to the current status quo than Greek Cypriots would like. Hence, it may be a legitimate political practice by an 'observer' to try and present the 'experience' of both sides as their interpretations of the past, while at the same time utilizing comparison to note the omissions of what the other side may consider important. This is done in the hope that it may contribute towards an eventual settlement of the dispute by increasing understanding and facilitating a more constructive dialogue. At the same time, a privileged observer, who has had access to both sides (such as myself), might hope to dispel some of the 'myths' that each side may hold concerning the other.
A reduction of the other's political discourse to 'propaganda' or 'interest' begs the question of why within each side it is so widely accepted, if it does not bear some relation to people's experiences. If this is kind of reduction is made, what is then implied is that the others (or the two communities in the case of the anthropologist concerned with both sides) are either passive or can not see through the falsehoods that their authorities construct. But the use which is made of history and the way it is somewhat disputed by various groups surely suggests otherwise. Arguing that the other (on the official level) is just making propaganda and that the others (i.e. the people of the other community) just repeat it and are also its the victims, implies a somewhat condescending attitude. A similar outlook is implied by the idea that the people on the other side have been turned into 'fanatics' by their official 'brainwashing'.
While, as I have mentioned above, both sides are still trying to find a solution - by which they do not mean the same thing - it is not so clear whether they are trying to do this mainly through reconciliation. In fact, both sides accuse the other as 'intransigent' and mostly concentrate on trying to rally international support. This allows and even encourages both to be locked into a discourse of 'self-righteousness' that blames the other for everything and keeps silent or encourages forgetting for the mistakes, killings and atrocities committed by those of one's own side. In any solution, both sides (or large proportions within each side) may then feel that according to what they consider 'right' too much has been given away and both could end up feeling that a solution has been unjustly imposed on them. One might then wonder how long such a 'solution' will last.
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