Projecting Ethnonational Identity Across a Contested Land: Analyzing the Symbolic Landscape of Divided Cyprus.

Authors: John Oswald*, Eastern Michigan University
Topics: Ethnic Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Cyprus, territoriality, ethno-national identity, symbolic landscape
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 45
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


There are many mechanisms available to communicate social and spatial control of regions divided as a result of communal conflict. Across divided landscapes, physical partitions and armed checkpoints are ubiquitous. Additionally, overt ethnonational symbols are utilized to project territorial control and ethnonational differentiation. Building off Sack’s ideas of “territoriality,” symbols are powerful tools used to consolidate the geographical “fixity” of communal identity, create or reinforce borders, and establish narrative aimed at “reifying” control over the landscape. Through evidence collected on the divided island of Cyprus, this paper identifies the frequency and utility of the ethno-national symbols used on both sides of the UN Buffer Zone. The research questions asked include: a) how pervasive and concentrated are ethno-nationally charged symbols across the Cypriot landscape? b) are these symbols aimed solely at community solidity, or are they meant to serve a multiplicity of functions such as reifying communal control while simultaneously meant to antagonize those across the divide?

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