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Performing Social Forgetting in a Post-Conflict Landscape: The Case of Cyprus

Harmansah, Rabia (2015) Performing Social Forgetting in a Post-Conflict Landscape: The Case of Cyprus. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines social practices of memory-making and forgetting in Cyprus after the partition of 1974, based on analysis of Orthodox Christian and Muslim religious sites in the Greek/Southern and the Turkish/Northern parts of the island. The central contribution of the dissertation is the development of the concept of social forgetting as a corollary of social memory. I consider forgetting to include selective remembering, mis/disremembering, and omitting, distorting, or silencing past events and experiences, in order to shape collective memory. In the literature, remembering is usually privileged over forgetting, which is taken as negation, neglect, failure to remember, or unintended social amnesia in which people are considered passive actors. This study, however, shows that forgetting can be a desirable goal and positive process for some social actors, accomplished by obscuring material evidence of what another community wishes remembered.
The first chapter looks at official and individual narratives regarding the ethnic conflict. The second chapter analyzes topographies of memory, specifically the treatment of religious landscapes during the ethnic conflict and afterwards, by discussing three cases of shared religious spaces. The third chapter examines temporalities of memories and collectivities, through the discussion of museumification of sacred sites that are converted to museums, and how the owners of the sites react to this process. This part also discusses the secularization of the Turkish Cypriot community and their relatively invisible conflict with the ‘fraternal other,’ Turkish settlers.
I argue that Greek and Turkish Cypriots are haunted by memories of ethnic conflict, but their perceptions of and approaches to the past are different. Greek Cypriots, at least officially and publicly, center their identities on the trauma of partition and are waiting for the liberation of the occupied land, seeing the future through what was supposedly left behind. For Turkish Cypriots, the past life alongside Greek Cypriots is a closed chapter. Both also develop alternative narratives through which they undermine official discourses in their everyday lives and practices. Yet they mostly seem to turn their faces towards opposite directions: Turkish Cypriots long for a lost future, and Greek Cypriots long for a lost past.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Harmansah, Rabiarah48@pitt.eduRAH48
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHayden, Robertrhayden@pitt.eduRHAYDEN
Committee MemberStrathern, Andrew J. strather@pitt.eduSTRATHER
Committee MemberConstable , Nicoleconstabl@pitt.eduCONSTABL
Committee MemberHanks, Bryan bkh5@pitt.eduBKH5
Committee MemberChilson, Clarkchilson@pitt.eduCHILSON
Date: 13 January 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 September 2014
Approval Date: 13 January 2015
Submission Date: 23 December 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 307
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: social forgetting, collective memory, religious landscape, sacred sites, Cyprus
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2015 18:56
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:26


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