Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: The unbearable paradises of milieux de memoire
Authors: Sant Cassia, Paul
Keywords: Migration, Internal -- Cyprus
Political refugees -- Cyprus
Mortality -- Cyprus
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Routledge
Citation: Sant Cassia, P. (2009). The unbearable paradises of milieux de memoire. [Review of the book Iron in the Soul: Displacement, Livelihood and Health in Cyprus, by Peter Loizos]. History and Anthropology, 20(4), 511-519.
Abstract: In 1975, Peter Loizos published The Greek Gift, a study of politics in a Greek Cypriot village. In the interval between the completion of the manuscript and the time it was published, the village he had studied in the late 1960s had disappeared—or more precisely had been overrun by the Turkish army, following the mainland Greek‐inspired coup in July 1974 and the subsequent Turkish invasion—with his villagers facing a bleakly uncertain future. This was also Peter Loizos’s father’s natal village, a fact which Loizos could perhaps not have intuited then would be of added significance as events unfolded. The front page of the book, added at the proofs stage, pre‐announced an impossible conundrum for the reader, but which is still relevant today: if the community one is about to read about does not exist anymore, how should one approach such a text? The reader’s relationship to the text becomes much more complex than merely reading about a community which that reader would anticipate is pretty much “the same” at the time of reading. If “Events/History” intervene so fundamentally (as in this case), we read the book with that knowledge, and that creates a new reading experience where the reader is in a “different time” than the subjects of the book. As the hidden premise of most anthropological reading is an isomorphism between the community and people depicted in the text and in “the field”, how should the reader treat a text which appeared not so much allochronic (“in a different time”) but also allotopic (“in a different place”), torn from the reality it had been composed to depict? If the former is to a certain extent always anticipated by the reader, the latter challenges both the purpose of reading and also what the reader anticipates ab initio, prior to engagement with the text, what he or she could “do” with the insights gained from that reading. The book itself was well written and composed (and was to me, a post‐graduate student then just about to commence my own Cyprus fieldwork, an inspiration in the way Loizos managed to marry process and structure), but the book as text (rather than its content) had to struggle against the hopeless truism that the world changes faster than any author’s ability to describe it.
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacArtAS

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
The Unbearable Paradises of Milieux de Memoire.pdf
  Restricted Access
65.12 kBAdobe PDFView/Open Request a copy

Items in OAR@UM are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.