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Conflict and identity at Nicosia's contested urban borderland
(University of East London/Goldsmiths University of London)
Paper short abstract:
The Green Line, the border that cuts through the capital city of Cyprus becomes a space of identity production and negotiation as urban explorers penetrate its delicate abandonment
Paper long abstract:
Urban borders represent the oxymoron of cohabitation and division. While symbolic borders are often observed as anthropological spaces of liminality and/or division, physical borders present spaces where anthropology and geography may come together to understand spatialized expressions of division. In Cyprus, the contested border known as the Green Line cuts through the capital city dividing the two main ethnic groups on the island. Identities are formed and challenged against the border, while Cypriots struggle to establish themselves in a post-conflict and post-colonial present. The old town, engulfed in the circular Venetian walls, becomes a semi-circle of exploration for many groups of explorers who seek to negotiate the past and present. The border, apparently penetrable only through a small number of official crossings, remains as a strip of destruction and abandonment that hosts a life of its own. The explorers that feature in this visual paper challenge the border's rigid physicality through expeditions to its physical and symbolic core. This paper explores the borderland's urban decay as a space of creativity, inspiration and identity production through the perceptions of urban explorers. The geopolitical context of the urban borderland creates a space for the negotiation of identity at a multiscalar perspective. Reproductions of the past through various narratives, such as heritage and tourism, are challenged in this observation of the ruin as the authentic remainder of the past. This paper is informed by a 15-month long ethnographic research.
Urban borderlands at the crossroads of anthropology and geography: spatiality, perceptions and social reproduction in a multiscalar perspective