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Title: The missing as a set of representations
Other Titles: Bodies of evidence : burial, memory and the recovery of missing persons in Cyprus
Authors: Sant Cassia, Paul
Keywords: Cyprus -- History -- Cyprus Crisis, 1974-
Disappeared persons -- Cyprus
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: Berghahn Books
Citation: Sant Cassia, P. (2005). The missing as a set of representations. In P. Sant Cassia (Ed.), Bodies of evidence : burial, memory and the recovery of missing persons in Cyprus (pp. 70-93). New York : Berghahn Books.
Abstract: The Turkish invasion and partitioned occupation of Cyprus was the single most cataclysmic event in modern Cypriot history. It was a collective trauma for Greek Cypriot society, though not for Turkish Cypriots – at least then. It shook the economy, family relations, politics, and forcefully uprooted a third of the population turning them into refugees. The economy collapsed, but subsequently made a remarkable recovery. In the long run the society became urbanised and Cyprus was transformed from a largely rural-based economy to a modern, thriving service economy with all its attendant problems. The invasion re-formed the actual space, the geography and the landscape of the island, inserting a dangerous no-go area between the two communities. It affected time: how Turkish and Greek Cypriots visualise their past, present, and future. Something similar seems to have occurred in Latvia. In her study of people’s testimonies in Latvia, Skultans noted that the 1940 Soviet occupation of Latvia came to play a leading role in defining national identity. Cypriots similarly talk about the 1974 events as the central reference point of their history, space, and identity. Michel de Certeau has perhaps rather grandly claimed that the quest for historical meaning ‘aims at calming the dead who still haunt the present, and at offering them scriptural tombs’ (1988: 2) This statement is useful in setting the aims of this chapter: how the missing still haunt the present in Cyprus, and how they are used by the state and society as a means to talk about the past. This complements two approaches to memory: as a strategy to cope with the traumatic experiences of the past (Antze and Lambek, 1996), and as a means to deal with ancestors and with death (Battaglia, 1992; Davies, 1994; Taylor, 1993). In his study of responses to the trauma of the First World War, Winter concentrates on war memorials ‘as foci of the rituals, rhetoric, and ceremonies of bereavement’ (1995: 78). I shall be looking at the memorialisation of the missing by the state as well as by political representatives of their relatives as foci not so much of bereavement, but rather of attempted recovery. It is worthwhile to visualize this within the context of Antigone. We shall look at how modern Creon memorialises the body of Eteocles – except that the body of Eteocles is missing. The concern here is with the missing as presences, as a series of representations. In a subsequent chapter I examine the converse: how the state and individuals represent the missing as losses and as absences.
ISBN: 1571816461
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacArtAS

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