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Title: Piercing transfigurations : representations of suffering in Cyprus
Authors: Sant Cassia, Paul
Keywords: Suffering -- Cyprus -- History
Missing persons -- Cyprus
Cyprus -- History -- Cyprus Crisis, 1974-
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Inc.
Citation: Sant Cassia, P. (1999). Piercing transfigurations: representations of suffering in Cyprus. Visual Anthropology, 13(1), 23-46.
Abstract: This paper explores representations of suffering in Cyprus, a divided island. It examines differences between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in their official publicity/propaganda photographic material in representing the issue of missing persons in Cyprus. It attempts to show that the differences are relatable not just to their different persuasive strategies, but also to different approaches to photography, to experience and memory. For the Greek Cypriots, the sacrifice of the person has to be represented as an absent body, the quintessential example being Christ. By contrast, for the Turkish Cypriots it is the presence of a (dead) body, the body of the dead hero/fighter, that signifies a sacrifice and transforms him into a shehit (martyr). Such differences can be related to differences between the two groups in the political fabulation of the past and its appeal to “memory” and “experience”. The Turkish Cypriots because of their pressing political problems, especially between 1963–70 when they tended to view their survival as being at stake, use photographs in a relatively “realist” matter‐of‐fact way although their aim is highly emotionally charged. Greek Cypriots use photographs as representations of what is in effect an iconic predicament: representation as participating in some fundamental way in that which it represents. After examining the predicament of depicting suffering through photography, the paper suggests that to respond effectively to suffering we may have to approach it not through the seductive realism of the photograph but through its means of representing the symbolic and the imaginary.
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