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Accepted Paper:

“You are not afraid when you walk through a cemetery, are you?” Cemeteries, nonchalance, and the immanence of the dead in a Turkish Cypriot village  

Author:

Sergen Bahceci (London School of Economics)

Paper short abstract:

I examine the everyday relations that Turkish Cypriot villagers have with various and seemingly radically different spaces of the dead to examine the striking nonchalance that they express towards all of them. I argue that this is due the immanence ascribed on all dead.

Paper long abstract:

I focus on the reproduction of everyday nonchalance towards the dead in a Turkish Cypriot village, which has within its bounds a number of different spaces that belong to the dead. Firstly, there is the village cemetery which has since the 1960s been the main ground where the villagers bury their own dead. Secondly, there is the ground of an older cemetery, over the most of which now stands a public school and a ‘sacred’ shrine/tomb, said to be of a historical ‘Ottoman martyr.’ Thirdly, the village is also home to several ‘public secret’ mass graves where Greek Cypriots prisoners of war, who were captured and murdered after their month-long invasion of the village was brought to an end by Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in August 1974, lie. Based on long-term research in this village, I examine the everyday relations that these Turkish Cypriot villagers have with the various spaces of the dead. I focus my discussion on the striking ‘nonchalance’ that most villagers express in relation to these spaces, which I argue is due to the ontological immanence that villagers ascribe to all dead without attention to the circumstances of their death or pre-internment ethnicity. For example, it is widely known that 26 Greek Cypriots were lying inside the deep water well in the village mosque’s yard until a recent UN exhumation removed their remains. The villagers say they never considered the place affectively ‘any different’ than any other. Indeed, most villagers visit the mosque only for funerals.

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Life at the cemetery III