Accepted Paper:

'We are not like them; the nationalists': the cultural construction of 'sympathy' in counter-nationalist discourses and peace activism in Cyprus  


Evropi Chatzipanagiotidou (Queen's University Belfast)

Paper short abstract:

The paper ethnographically traces ‘sympathy’ as a mode of morality underpinning inter-communal relationships and interactions in Cyprus; and it argues that as associated with ‘alternative nationalisms’, ‘sympathy’ in this case creates new opportunities for inclusion but also expansive spaces of exclusion.

Paper long abstract:

Cyprus has been divided into two parts since 1974 as a result of inter-ethnic conflict between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Despite the dominance of respective nationalisms on both sides, there are Greek and Turkish Cypriots who seek to overcome the stereotyping of each other as the ultimate 'enemy' and to challenge nationalist processes of 'othering'; significantly in this case, -and as the title of the paper suggests-, this process often involves emphasising difference from members of one's 'own' community and highlighting sameness with the opposite -mirrored- community. Based on ethnographic data collected since 2008 among peace supporters, activists and members of the Cypriot Left in Cyprus and the diaspora, this paper traces the social, cultural and historical production and construction of 'sympathy' as a moral basis for the (re)development of Cypriotism, an alternative nationalism to the established ethnic ones in Cyprus. The paper argues that 'sympathy' in this case has to be analysed as produced at the intersections of individual memories, experiences and interactions; institutionalised discourses and practices; and broader political, social and historical processes. Such contextualisation of 'sympathy for 'the other'' allows us to trace what is simultaneously universal and particular in the ways that specific modes of morality underpin nationalism and counter-nationalism in Cyprus; how democracy and rights are constituted and negotiated in pursuing and imagining a future, re-unified island; and how new spaces of inclusion and exclusion are created in the process.

Panel P26
Nationalism, democracy and morality: a historical and anthropological approach to the role of moral sentiments in contemporary politics