Cyprus dispute: Between contested territories and spontaneous reappropriation: Divided Nicosia

Melehat Nil Gulari*, Cecilia Zecca

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper discusses the concepts of conflict and border in relation to place and identity reflecting on narratives and meanings of dividing urban and civil borders. It takes the divided Greek and Turkish society living in Nicosia as a case study. The significance of the wall, as an explicit expression of division, is discussed but also overturned by looking at its closure and its permeability when Nicosia’s sealed borders opened again for everyday crossing. The inquiry speculates an alternative path informed by Glissant’s concept of Opacity, Agamben and Nancy’s non-essentialist approaches non-community to look at entangled deep-rooted ethnic divisions and fragments of shared cultures. To inform urban epistemology, two bottom-up examples are analysed using De Certeau’s concepts of everyday life: Home for Cooperation, which is a neutral space in the buffer zone for unified collectively and Occupy Buffer-zone Movement, which has occupied a non-place and transformed it into a public square through grassroots activism. The paper highlights that in order to draw a feasible future of Cyprus, an anti-essentialist acceptance of the multiple and eclectic origins of the context is needed. In this sense, the tangible and intangible meaning of division requires a shift of meaning, from delimitation, classification, separation to a porous element of balance and calibration. The top-down urban models and concept of inclusiveness have been shaken by the temporal civic grassroots communities, and this demonstrates that collective participation fosters the reappropriation of public space, overturning the perception and the experience of the border of differences. This contributes to theorizing a critical and reflective,rather than idealistic, practice of participation in urban design.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-188
Number of pages14
JournalAstrágalo. Cultura de la Arquitectura y la Ciudad
Issue number29 (EXTRA)
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

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