Contested border urbanism: Learning from Cyprus dispute

Melehat Nil Gulari*, Cecilia Zecca

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The narratives of space, place and identity provide a basis to analyse the meanings of borders for Cypriots living in the north and south of the island. The historical background of the conflict in Cyprus introduces mixed villages and traces the importance of walls and borders in the urban fabric of Nicosia, Europe's last divided capital. We analysed narratives of crossing borders when they were opened every day, crossing on Ledra Palace/Lokmacı Street in Nicosia after three decades of closure. Opening this path would transform the dynamics of deep-rooted ethnic divisions and foreground shared cultures that draw on Nancy’s concept of inoperative community (Nancy 1991) and Agamben’s Coming Community (Agamben 1993). Analysis of two examples against the background of de Certeaus’ concepts of everyday life (de Certeau 1984) informs this urban epistemology: Home for Cooperation and a learning centre/café. These two spaces are neutral in the buffer zone/borderland for unified collectivity and “Occupy Buffer Zone Movement” activities, occupying a non-place and transforming into a public square through grassroots activism. Cypriot history is complex and eclectic. It requires anti-essentialist acceptance of its multiple origins to imagine the future of urban territories in Cyprus. The communities of the temporal civic grassroots are particularly intriguing to challenge the top-down urbanism models and understanding of community and being in common. They produce and re-appropriate public space through collective participation, alter the spatial perception, approach the borders, and redefine urban space.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBorder Urbanism
Subtitle of host publicationTransdisciplinary Perspectives
EditorsQuazi Mahtab Zaman, Greg G. Hall
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9783031066047
ISBN (Print)9783031066030, 9783031066061
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameThe Urban Book Series ((UBS))
Publisher Springer
ISSN (Print)2365-757X
ISSN (Electronic)2365-7588

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